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Feds investigating Hanging Lake Instagram stunt by man with criminal history

A 9Wants to Know review of David Lesh’s criminal history reveals he has a pattern of violating rules on public lands designed to protect the environment.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — After posting an Instagram photo of himself standing on a log in the middle of Hanging Lake, David Lesh has been the subject of internet backlash and now another federal investigation.

U.S. Forest Service rules prevent swimming in Hanging Lake because human contact with the water can disrupt the area’s sensitive environmental chemistry. Signs around the lake clearly indicate swimming is not allowed.

"We are aware of the social media posts related to Hanging Lake," a statement from the U.S. Forest Service reads. "We take this seriously and our law enforcement is investigating. We appreciate all the concern and information we have received from the public about this case."

The Hanging Lake incident is not Lesh’s first time being under the scrutiny of law enforcement for stunts on public lands, which he routinely boasts about on his Instagram account.

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Credit: Courtesy Instagram
An Instagram screengrab showing David Lesh's snowmobile stunt.

“If you want people to freak out, all you have to do is find a log on a lake somewhere, stand on it, post it to Instagram,” the 34-year-old recently said in a video posted to his Instagram.

9Wants to Know has confirmed Lesh is under federal investigation for the Hanging Lake photo and for riding a snowmobile on closed lands in April, which he also boasted about online.

On Tuesday, during an appearance in U.S. federal court, Lesh agreed to pay a $500 fine and do 50 hours of public service for riding his snowmobile in a restricted area near Independence Pass in July 2019.

Credit: Courtesy Boulder County Sheriff's Office
David Lesh's mugshot from his Boulder arrest.

A review of Lesh’s criminal history indicates several arrests on his record. Despite felony charges like eluding police in Oregon and destruction of property in Boulder, court records indicate Lesh has avoided felony convictions after plea agreements.

Lesh, 34, owns the Virtika clothing company, which has also been sharing images of antics on its Instagram account.

A current petition on Change.org is calling for the state to revoke his business license. As of this publication, more than 13,000 people have signed the petition.

A spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) declined to weigh in on the petition.

“There are rules for a reason,” said Lisa Langer, a director of tourism in Glenwood Springs.

“And especially for someone running an outdoor clothing company, they should be conscientious about things and not be causing more harm than good.”

Lesh declined an on-camera interview with 9NEWS about his criminal history and instead provided a vulgar quote characterizing the backlash he’s been receiving as “Karens.”

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