Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Forest Service cutting access fees

Colorado 14ers access and fee issues only, please
Posts: 2081
Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:19 pm

Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby peter303 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:52 am

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-forest-fee-20120229,0,1863639.story

Colorado is such a mishmash of Fed, State and local regions, I dont know the full effect here.
I did see some self-service fee forest service Kiosks in Indian Peaks.
I dont know about Mt. Evans.

User avatar
Posts: 7365
Joined: Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:23 pm
Location: Colorado Springs

Re: Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby Jim Davies » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:15 am

That decision only affects the 9th circuit areas, which don't include Colorado. It might be a precedent that could lead to overturning some fees, but even in California they can still have fees where the FS provides the "six amenities" required by FLREA since 2005 for a fee area: parking, toilets, trash cans, picnic tables, interpretive signs, and security services. This case was basically forcing the FS to stop charging for trailheads and such that didn't offer all of these.

It's been argued that the Mount Evans fee is invalid since it covers the whole road, and only one facility along the road provides all six amenities.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of white blood cells.

User avatar
Posts: 1406
Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2005 10:17 am
Location: Dillon

Re: Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:57 am

peter303 wrote:Colorado is such a mishmash of Fed, State and local regions


California is far worse. You're not even allowed in some places if all the permits have been taken. And the Adventure Pass area doesn't cover the Sierra. I think the fees and quotas there are still in place.

Anyone know whether this ruling kills the Northwest Forest Pass system in Washington/Oregon?
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

Posts: 203
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:13 am

Re: Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby SteveBonowski » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:58 am

Colorado is in the 10th Circuit. Peter: not sure what you mean by Colorado being a mishmash. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about land management in Colorado since I've tracked it for almost 30 years.

Re: Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby Bean » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:04 pm

Jim Davies wrote:That decision only affects the 9th circuit areas, which don't include Colorado. It might be a precedent that could lead to overturning some fees, but even in California they can still have fees where the FS provides the "six amenities" required by FLREA since 2005 for a fee area: parking, toilets, trash cans, picnic tables, interpretive signs, and security services. This case was basically forcing the FS to stop charging for trailheads and such that didn't offer all of these.

It's been argued that the Mount Evans fee is invalid since it covers the whole road, and only one facility along the road provides all six amenities.

They have to provide the amenities and you have to utilize one or more of them. I wonder, if a specific area qualifies for a fee and you really need to use the restroom but refuse to pay the fee, if the USFS would prefer you use the ground instead.

The Mt. Evans fee is particularly egregious since they charge at the start of a CDOT road, several miles away from any USFS installations, other than their stupid toll booth. Also, their road block/diversion at the toll booth does not seem to comply with the MUTCD.
gdthomas wrote:Bean, you're an idiot.

http://throughpolarizedeyes.com

Posts: 123
Joined: Sun May 04, 2008 10:18 pm

Re: Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby D8S » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:39 am

Although Mt Evans and Mt Lemmon are in different districts, the decision can be expected to ripple nationwide. In fact, the court in Mt. Lemmon references the Mt. Evans case in support of its argument.

The bottom line is that both courts have found that the Forest Service´s fee programs are legally unenforceable. It isn´t likely to matter which district you´re in; if you limit your activities to those the Forest Service is prohibited from charging for, then you should not need to pay the fee.

Below are some quotes from the court decisions. Outside of the quotes, the writing in italics is mine.


Mt Evans: http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/2011_08_09_Decision_Affirmed.pdf

So some lawful applications of the policy do exist. But saying this much shouldn’t be misconstrued as saying more. In rejecting the plaintiffs’ facial challenge we hardly mean to suggest that the Service’s policy can’t be attacked at all. It might well be susceptible to a winning challenge as applied to certain particular visitors....


.....the current Implementation Plan may be vulnerable to an as-applied challenge under § 6802. We do not pass on the issue today, but it seems an individual might have a good defense if he were prosecuted for participating in only those activities listed in § 6802(d)(1).


Essentially, the court is saying that should the Forest Service file criminal charges against visitors engaged only in those activities for which the Forest Service is prohibited from charging a fee, the visitor would likely prevail.


Mt. Lemmon: http://www.westernslopenofee.org/pdfuploads/2012_02_09_Mt_Lemmon_Decision_Reversed_and_Remanded.pdf

[1] Everyone is entitled to enter national forests without paying a cent. 16 U.S.C. § 6802(e)(2) (“The Secretary shall not charge an entrance fee for Federal recreational lands . . . managed by . . . the Forest Service.”).


This may ultimately be why the South Colony fee proposal failed to go forward.

The Forest Service may, however, charge a “standard amenity recreation fee” in an “area”:


[2] But the REA prohibits the Forest Service from charging that fee, even in a place where subsection (f) would otherwise authorize it, “for certain activities or services.” 16 U.S.C. § 6802(d)(1).


The REA unambiguously prohibits the standard amenity recreation fee structure in place at the Mount Lemmon HIRA


[4] A. The Forest Service is prohibited from charging an amenity fee “[s]olely for parking.” 16 U.S.C § 6802(d)(1)(A). There is nothing ambiguous about that text. If all a visitor does is park, and he is charged a fee, that fee is imposed “[s]olely for parking. ..... It may often be the case that a visitor, after parking, does something else. Then the fee would not be “[s]olely for parking,” and so long as the “something else” is not another activity for which subsection (d)(1) prohibits an amenity recreation fee (emphasis added, D8S), the agency is free to charge him. But if a visitor does nothing other than park, the fee is solely for parking and is therefore plainly prohibited by the REA.


Moreover, the REA clearly contemplates that individuals can go to a place offering facilities and services without using
the facilities and services and without paying a fee.


At any of the places where subsection (f) contemplates recreation fees, it is possible for a visitor to do something more
than park a car—take photos of a volcano, make a cell phone call, chew a piece of gum—and a visitor must use a facility
or service to be subject to a subsection (g) fee


B. It is equally clear that the REA prohibits the Forest Service from charging standard amenity recreation fees for each
of several activities in which plaintiffs participate after they park: hiking without using facilities and services, picnicking on a road or trailside, or camping at a site that does not have a majority of the nine enumerated amenities.


“If a visitor drives close enough to [the HIRA], parks to have a picnic on the side of the road, and then calls it a day, she’ll have paid the amenity fee only for picnicking and undesignated parking—activities for which no fee is supposed to be charged under § 6802(d)(1).” Scherer v. United States Forest Serv., 653 F.3d 1241, 1243 (10th Cir. 2011); see id. at 1244 (noting, in the course of rejecting a facial challenge to a HIRA’s implementation plan, that an as applied challenge might not suffer the same fate).


Note that the court in Mt Lemmon is using the Mt Evans decision to support its decision against the fee program.



The bottom line is that both decisions went against the Forest Service on the merits. The rest, as they say, time will tell.

Dave

Re: Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby Bean » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:52 am

The agency interprets the conjunction “and” too loosely. It claims that its fees comply with the statute because any visitor who travels through the HIRA necessarily “uses” its security services. But security services are, at most, “services”—not “facilities and services.” Id. (emphasis added). “And” does not mean “or.” ... (“As a linguistic matter, ‘and’ and ‘or’ are not synonyms; indeed, they are more nearly antonyms. One need only start the day with a breakfast of ham or eggs to be duly impressed by the difference.”).


Heh.
gdthomas wrote:Bean, you're an idiot.

http://throughpolarizedeyes.com

User avatar
Posts: 570
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 2:57 pm
Location: Englewood, CO

Re: Forest Service cutting access fees

Postby centrifuge » Tue Mar 06, 2012 3:00 pm

Bean wrote:
The agency interprets the conjunction “and” too loosely. It claims that its fees comply with the statute because any visitor who travels through the HIRA necessarily “uses” its security services. But security services are, at most, “services”—not “facilities and services.” Id. (emphasis added). “And” does not mean “or.” ... (“As a linguistic matter, ‘and’ and ‘or’ are not synonyms; indeed, they are more nearly antonyms. One need only start the day with a breakfast of ham or eggs to be duly impressed by the difference.”).


Heh.


This is one of the most important aspects of this because this is the argument that the Forest Service has consistently used in reference to the Mt. Evan's area. They also argue that because they provide all of the 6 required services throughout the HIRA, it is enough to cover all areas, undeveloped or otherwise. The use the 'or' interpretation very loosley. They also include the Summit Lake area (even though its not even a FS owned/operated area but Denver Mountain Parks. Hopefully this is a precedent that is taken advantage of in the 10th Circuit Court, though I would expect the Forest Service to attempt an appeal of this desision (though if they do it will end up effecting the FS on a national basis). Whether its heard or not is a whole different issue. Then again, if the FS appeals or not is a whole different issue. [-o<
"i feel so extraordinary, somethings got a hold on me, I get this feeling I'm in motion, a sudden sence of liberty“ new order

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest