Adventure Pass Parking Fees Struck Down

Here is the official press release from Keep Sespe Wild (www.sespewild.org )regarding the latest court ruling on the Adventure Pass.

 

ADVENTURE PASS PARKING FEES STRUCK DOWN

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

In a ruling on 4/28/2014, Senior U.S. Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. found that the United States Forest Service (USFS) cannot charge Adventure Pass fees to hikers 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.

The USFS has been levying fees and ticketing parked cars at trailheads across Southern California, and around the nation, since the enactment of the nationwide Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) in 2004, whether or not the forest visitors used any nearby facilities.

In an earlier case, Adams vs. U.S. Forest Service, the San Francisco Federal Appeals Court ruled in 2012 that the FLREA fee law does not allow the agency to charge fees solely for parking. This ruling was binding in nine western states, but the USFS continued to charge visitors for parking, and to ticket cars at trailheads both locally and further afield.

The current case, Richard Fragosa et al vs. Randy Moore et al, was intended to require the USFS to follow the 2012 ruling and to cease charging for parking both at trailheads and anywhere within USFS-designated High Impact Recreation Areas (HIRAs) throughout the Adventure Pass area, which encompasses large parts of the four Southern California National Forests. In this regard, the ruling by Judge Hatter has been spectacularly successful.

Locally, fees and tickets for parked cars must now cease at the popular Piedra Blanca Trailhead in Rose Valley, gateway to the upper Sespe Wilderness.

In the Santa Barbara area, the situation along Paradise Road is more complicated, as fees there are charged by a concessionaire at an entry kiosk. This ruling should result in immediate free kiosk entry to those not visiting the many developed campgrounds along several miles of forest roads past the kiosk.

“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 must now cease charging these fees immediately, across the entire Adventure Pass area and beyond,” states Alasdair Coyne, Conservation Director of Keep Sespe Wild, an Ojai-based watershed organization that has opposed fees for access to undeveloped forest lands since the earlier Fee Demo program began in 1996.

CONTACTS:

Alasdair Coyne, Keep Sespe Wild, 585-0419

Kitty Benzar, Western Slope No Fee Coalition,

(970) 259-4616

Matt Kenna, Attorney, (970) 385-6941

Rene Voss, Attorney, (415) 446-9027

 

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