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November 24
2003 - Ruth Newhall, longtime co-owner/editor of The Signal, dies in Berkeley [story]
Ruth Newhall


Adventure Pass no longer needed for roadside parking under ruling
| Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014

[Western Slope No Fee Coalition] – In a ruling issued April 28, 2014, Senior U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. found that the United States Forest Service cannot charge fees to visitors who park their vehicles and head off down the trail without using any developed facilities, such as picnic tables and bathrooms, that may be adjacent to the parking area.

“This ruling is a victory for the American public, be they hikers, equestrians, hunters or fishermen. The nationwide fee law has clearly prohibited fees solely for parking since 2004, and the U.S. Forest Service should now cease charging these fees immediately, across southern California and beyond,” said Alasdair Coyne, Conservation Director of Keep Sespe Wild and one of the four plaintiffs in the case.

Magic Mountain 4383The Forest Service has been levying such fees, and ticketing parked cars, at trailheads and roadside pullouts since 1996 under a program called the Adventure Pass which encompasses all four National Forests in southern California: the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino. The Adventure Pass began as an experiment called Fee Demo, which allowed recreation fees to be charged without restriction for any activity. Many Fee Demo fees were extremely unpopular, particularly the requirement to buy a pass merely to park and go for a hike in the woods. In response to rising complaints, Congress repealed Fee Demo in 2004 and replaced it with the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).

The FLREA allows fees for use of amenities and services at developed sites, but prohibits them solely for parking or for passing through National Forests without using any facilities. This case, Fragosa et al v. US Forest Service, hinged on whether the Forest Service can require an Adventure Pass anywhere amenities are present, even if a visitor does not use them and only parks there while traveling through undeveloped areas.

In his ruling, Judge Hatter said decisively that they can not.

In an earlier case, Adams v. U.S. Forest Service, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2012 that the Forest Service was similarly in violation of the FLREA when it charged visitors to Mt Lemmon, near Tucson, a fee to park anywhere along a 28-mile roadway that provides access to numerous backcountry trails. The Adams ruling is binding in the nine western states that comprise the 9th Circuit, including California, but the Forest Service there continued to require an Adventure Pass for parking, and to ticket unoccupied cars at trailheads.

In the current case, four southern California hikers sued in October 2012 to require the Forest Service to follow the Adams ruling and to cease charging for parking throughout the Adventure Pass area. The Adventure Pass is the Forest Service’s largest fee program, selling more than 300,000 passes per year. After almost two decades it remains broadly unpopular, with more than 40,000 warnings and tickets for non-payment issued annually.

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4 Comments

  1. Kathy Wing says:

    A very good ruling. Thank you Judge Harter and thank you Kitty for all your hard work.

  2. Kathy Wing says:

    oops, my eyes are not so good anymore – I was trying to thank Judge Hatter and typed Harter instea. Sorry

  3. Kathy Wing says:

    and now I forgot a d

  4. Sam Pierce says:

    Do we get a refund for the balance of the current year Adventure Pass we purchased?

Leave a Comment


SCV NewsBreak
LOCAL NEWS HEADLINES
Monday, Nov 23, 2020
Monday COVID-19 Roundup: Over Weekend, SCV Sees 436 New Cases, 1 New Death
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Monday reported 8 new deaths and the county's highest-ever daily number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 -- 6,124 since Sunday -- as unincorporated Canyon Country recorded its first COVID fatality over the weekend.
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