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[RC] Trail fees illegal? - rides2far@xxxxxxxx

Interesting ruling just got forwarded by Back Country Horseman.  Don't know if 
this is good 
or bad. Didn't we want them to be able to collect fees to help offset costs?

Angie


Subject
:
SABCH FEDERAL COURT FINDS ARIZONA FOREST SERVICE FEE PROGRAM IS ILLEGAL



Date
:
Thu, Sep 14, 2006 05:18 AM

[ Printable Version ]?
?
From: Peg Greiwe [mailto:peg2@xxxxxxxxxxx] ?
Peg, BCHA
----- Original Message -----
From: Robert Funkhouser
To: WSNFC
Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 8:01 PM
Subject: FEDERAL COURT FINDS ARIZONA FOREST SERVICE FEE PROGRAM IS ILLEGAL
?
?WESTERN SLOPE NO-FEE COALITION
P.O. Box 135, Durango, CO 81302
www.westernslopenofee.org
?
More information:
Robert Funkhouser 802/235-2299 rfunk9999@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Kitty Benzar 970/259-4616 wsnfc@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
?
Text of Court Order Attached (pdf) or?posted www.westernslopenofee.org ?
September 12, 2006
For Immediate Release
?
FEDERAL COURT FINDS ARIZONA FOREST SERVICE FEE PROGRAM IS ILLEGAL
Hiking and Parking Fees Are Not Authorized In Fee Law
?
A mild-mannered, churchgoing, Tucson legal secretary has pulled the legal rug 
out from 
under a major Forest Service fee program, and potentially from hundreds of 
similar 
programs nationwide.
?
When Chris Wallace decided to fight the two tickets she received last September 
for going 
on backcountry hikes on Mt Lemmon without displaying a $5 access pass on her 
parked 
car, the Forest Service got more than they bargained for. With the help of 
California attorney 
Mary Ellen Barilotti, she challenged whether the Forest Service has legal 
authority to charge 
the fee.
?
On September 5, United States Magistrate Judge Charles R. Pyle agreed with 
Wallace. He 
dismissed both her tickets because the Mt Lemmon fee does not meet federal 
requirements. 
The Court found that:
-????? The legal prohibition on fees for certain activities applies even within 
a High Impact 
Recreation Area
-?????? The Forest Service does not have authority to charge a fee for parking 
along roads, or 
for undeveloped, minimally developed or semi-developed sites
-??????? The Forest Service has no authority to charge fees for trails, 
trailsides, or developed 
trailheads
-?????? The agency is prohibited from charging for camping at undeveloped sites.
Wallace's case hinged on the restrictions spelled out in the Federal Lands 
Recreation 
Enhancement Act (FLREA), which was passed by Congress as an appropriations 
rider in 
December 2004. The FLREA repealed the unpopular Fee Demo law and replaced it 
with a 
permanent, but more restrictive, fee authority for the Forest Service, BLM, 
Fish and Wildlife 
Service, National Park Service, and Bureau of Reclamation. The FLREA 
specifically prohibits 
fees merely for parking, for hiking through Forest Service lands, or for access 
to 
undeveloped backcountry.
?
After passage of the FLREA, the Forest Service issued internal guidelines that 
allow parking, 
hiking, and access fees in areas designated as "High Impact Recreation Areas" 
or HIRAs. 
Under these guidelines, fees are being charged nationwide for parking at 
undeveloped 
areas, trailheads, and along state highways and county roads.
?
The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition has challenged the concept of HIRAs, 
pointing out that 
they are not authorized in the FLREA and in fact are being used to skirt the 
restrictions in 
the law. A WSNFC Report to Congress documenting widespread non-compliance with 
the 
FLREA by the Forest Service was published in October 2005, in conjunction with 
a hearing 
by the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests.? The Mt Lemmon fee area 
was 
one of many identified in the Report as non-compliant with the FLREA. The 
Report can be 
read at http://www.westernslopenofee.org/NoFee/WSNFC_Survey_Report.pdf
?
Following the Senate hearing, Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey produced 
for 
Congress a list of 1,339 sites located within HIRAs. Of those, 739, or 75%, do 
not qualify 
individually for fees under the FLREA. The Wallace case challenged whether the 
Forest 
Service has authority to ignore the law's restrictions just because a site is 
within a HIRA.
?
Judge Pyle's ruling confirms that they do not. The ruling says, "With respect 
to the 20 
developed trailheads [on Mt Lemmon], never in the 42 year history of 
fee-charging on 
federal lands has fee-charging for trailheads ever been contemplated by 
Congress. . .Of the 
48 sites identified by the USFS, only nine picnic areas are appropriate for a 
standard 
amenity recreation fee, the fee at issue in this case, assuming they are in 
fact developed 
sites, and not roadside picnic tables and trash cans."
?
Other similar fee programs that are potentially affected by the ruling include 
Mt Evans in 
Colorado, Sandia Byway in New Mexico, American Fork Canyon in Utah, the 
Northwest 
Forest Pass in Washington and Oregon, and the Adventure Pass in Southern 
California.
?
?"For them to continue to charge fees for parking, hiking, and backcountry 
access after this 
ruling is inexcusable," said WSNFC President Robert Funkhouser.? "This decision 
confirms 
that the Forest Service is not above the law."
?
Judge Pyle's ruling concurs, stating "The USFS needs to abide by the 
constraints of Congress 
and allow reasonable access to dispersed areas for low impact activities."
?
?
The Western Slope No-Fee Coalition is a national organization based in Durango, 
Colorado 
that has called for repeal of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act 
(FLREA).

?



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