Settlement addresses pesky Adventure Pass fees on 4 Southern California national forests
A long-running and stubborn battle by activists against the spread of public lands access fees has paid off once again in Southern California, where the U.S. Forest Service agreed to designate and mark free parking areas for hikers who aren’t using developed facilities.
The court-sanctioned deal stems from yet another legal battle over federal recreation fees. Public land agencies started charging for access to plug alleged budget holes; public lands advocates have been trying to limit the spread of the fees and make sure they’ve only levied in the places specifically authorized by Congress — namely at developed recreation sites, and not just for general hiking access. Continue reading “Court deal a win for fee-free public lands access in SoCal”→
At issue are how the fee program for access to public lands is being implemented by federal agencies. The hearing is set to start at 10 a.m. EDT and should be available as webcast via the House Committee on Natural Resources website.
A new lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. could end the widespread practice of charging fees at day-use areas via private for-profit concessionaires who manage nearby campgrounds.
The lawsuit identifies five specific sites, including Bagby Hot Springs and Big Eddy day use sites on the Mt. Hood National Forest in Oregon, Rose Canyon Lake on the Coronado National Forest in Arizona, Second Crossing on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, Walton Lake on the Ochoco National Forest in Oregon, and Rampart Reservoir on the Pike National Forest in Colorado.
“These recreation facilities are located on federal land and were built with taxpayer dollars. The Forest Service can’t just declare them exempt from federal law by hiring private contractors to run them. It’s a backdoor route to the privatization of our public lands and an outrageous disregard of congressional direction,” said Olivia Schmidt, program director at BARK, an Oregon group watch-dogging Mt. Hood National Forest.
Forest Service will only charge fees at areas with developed amenities
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Just in time for the busy summer season in the mountains, the U.S. Forest Service has made some changes to the way it administers fees at the popular Mt. Evans area.
Instead of charging to visit the overall area, the agency will charge fees at three specific developed locations around Mt. Evans, including the summit area, the Mt. Goliath natural area and at Summit Lake Park, under a revenue-sharing agreement with Denver.
The deal means hikers who just want to visit the backcountry won’t have to pay, but the Forest Service will still be able to charge for use of developed recreation amenities in the most intensely used parts of the Mt. Evans area, where fees have helped pay for some much-needed maintenance and hardening of trails. Continue reading “Forest Service cuts pay-to-play fees at Mt. Evans”→
Revised plan for Green Mountain Reservoir, Cataract Lake area gets provisional OK from advisory group
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — This land is once again your land for free, at least at the popular Cataract Lake trailhead in northern Summit County, where the U.S. Forest Service has been charging a feee to park and hike since the late 1990s.
But last week, a citizen advisory committee voted to a approve a revised recreation plan for the larger Green Mountain Reservoir area, including Cataract Lake, and the new plan ends the unpopular Cataract Lake parking and hiking fee, as well as day use fees at Green Mountain Reservoir. The new plan also reconfigures camping fees to a basic per-site charge, with extra fees for extra cars.
The San Francisco-based Appeals Court found the U.S. Forest Service at fault for charging parking fees to people who go for a hike without using amenities such as picnic tables, trashcans and bathrooms located nearby, or who camp in dispersed, undeveloped parts of a National Forest.
If the ruling stands, it will be binding in nine western states and sets a nationwide legal precedent. The ruling doesn’t cover Colorado, but the fee program at Mt. Evans is currently being challenged in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals — which does cover Colorado, and the recent ruling out of San Francisco could be a factor in that case. Continue reading “Forest Service recreation fees take another legal hit”→
No more fees for access to undeveloped backcountry areas
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A federal judge in Arizona has put some limits on the U.S. Forest Service pay-to-play program by ruling that agency violated the law by charging an access fee for an undeveloped backcountry area.