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View Full Version : Just hiking? “Then pay no Nat’l Forest fee,” Court says



Heroique
6-May-2012, 13:11
Did anyone else hear about the recent Federal Court (9th Circuit) decision about fees (http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2012/02/09/10-16711.pdf) in Nat’l Forest lands? (The decision relates to Coronado NF in Arizona, but would apply to: Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana, Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii.)

The upshot for landscape photographers, as I understand it:

If all you do is drive into a NF, park, and hike – and don’t use site facilities – the NF can no longer charge you for doing so. (Keep in mind we’re talking Nat’l Forests – not Nat’l Parks, Nat’l Monuments, Nat’l Seashores, state forests, etc.)

As most LF-ers here know, many NF sites currently require a standard amenity fees (SAF), which in everyday language is a “parking fee.” For example, here in Washington state, we pay the typical $5/day fee for parking at many NF sites, or can purchase the annual Northwest Forest Pass for $30. I think you California LF-ers have an Adventure Pass, right?

There appear to be two key issues in this decision for LF-ers who drive to NF trailheads:


1) Most significantly, the Nat’l Forests can not charge a fee to people who simply park and hike at Nat’l Forest trailheads & other sites – provided they don’t use site facilities. (Apparently, these people can use “designated, developed parking” listed below w/o a fee, for they’re still simply parking and hiking.)

2) More broadly, the Nat’l Forest can not charge fees for any site, unless, among a few other requirements, the site includes all of the following amenities:

• Designated, developed parking.
• A permanent toilet facility.
• A permanent trash receptacle.
• Interpretive materials (a sign, exhibit, or kiosk).
• Picnic tables.
• Security services (meaning the area could be patrolled by USFS or local law-enforcement personnel).

-----
What do you think? Your first reaction might be, “Great! No more fees for my forest trips!” :)

But you might also believe it’s a good idea to help fund Nat’l Forests through such fees. I do, and gladly pay them. From this perspective, the decision apparently means many NF trailhead sites will have to drop fees, and experience more usage, as a likely consequence. (For how many sites that you visit, after all, actually have these six amenities?) Moreover, if one is simply parking and hiking w/o using facilities, then no NF site can charge a fee, no matter how many amenities it has. So, you might view this decision as good news, or bad news indeed.

I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know when the decision would become active, but it seems that even though it’s being sent to district courts, it’s technically the law of the land for now, whether or not your local NF has formally caught up with it.

John Kasaian
6-May-2012, 13:30
I'm confused.

Heroique
6-May-2012, 14:26
Here’s the shortest possible version:

Nat’l Forest fees are going away for many sites – and for all visitors who only park & hike.

:rolleyes:

Steve Smith
6-May-2012, 14:44
$5 a day seems very reasonable to me, even if the only facility you use is the car park.


Steve.

Daniel Stone
6-May-2012, 14:52
If people can't afford to pay $5 to get usage of a table to eat their lunch at, maybe a toilet to poop in before heading out, but they're ok driving their gas-guzzling SUV to the trailhead. And then putting on their $200 Keen hiking boots, and listening to their $300 iphone, I think we need to re-think the whole she-bang. And people need to check themselves at the door.

$5/day for me isn't even a drop in the bucket for me compared to the cost of film if the light is good. Especially with 8x10 color film. I'd be fine with $10/day. It keeps the forest service staff employed(I hope), and it pays for trash cleanup when I'm not there to help when I see the occasional can or plastic bag.

If someone's gonna bitch over a $5 parking fee, we're already screwed :rolleyes:

-Dan

Brian Ellis
6-May-2012, 14:57
Here’s the shortest possible version:

Nat’l Forest fees are going away for many sites – and for all visitors who only park & hike.

:rolleyes:

Not exactly. Or at least not yet. And if ever, only in the States within the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction.

I only skimmed the case but it appears to me that all the 9th Circuit did was reverse the District Court's granting of the defendant's motion for summary judgment. The case has been remanded to the District Court "for further proceedings consistent with this opinion." Exactly what the District Court will do now is unknown though the 9th Circuit has made its interpretation of the statute pretty clear. And what the Forest Service might do in all the States not within the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction if the plaintiffs in this case ultimately prevail is unknown.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is generally considered the nuttiest of the federal courts of appeal, having been reversed by the Supreme Court more times than any other circuit court of appeals (or maybe more times than all the others put together, I forget which). So just because the 9th Circuit does something is no guarantee that other courts of appeal will follow if cases like this arise in other jurisdictions.

vinny
6-May-2012, 15:01
I'd like to pay more fees on top of my state park pass, nat'l park pass, boat registration, fishing license, wild and scenic river access pass, boat launch fees, federal, state, and sales tax. Please, where can I send my money?

Heroique
6-May-2012, 15:10
For the time being in the listed states, I think the Forest Service will probably say you still need to pay fees, but will also instruct their staff not to write citations to those w/o passes who are only parking & hiking.

And maybe grimace at the loss of revenue that might go to trail & trailhead maintenance.

Old-N-Feeble
6-May-2012, 15:13
I'm on the fence about this one. We already pay taxes for NF care. But I want to support them so they stay open.

jp498
6-May-2012, 15:49
Seems no different than what I am accustomed to at White Mountains in New Hampshire. Drive in, park somewhere, go for a hike.

I'd have no problem supplying a few dollars if it went for upkeep and etc. But it's nature as intended if you don't have to pony up cash to visit a collectively owned resource. Personally, I'm pleased to see my money at work in our forests/parks, far more pleased than some of the other things our government spends money on. As a fee or tax, I can see how it would be bothersome, as many of us slave half the year to pay various taxes and fees we "owe" to the various government entities.

Frank Petronio
6-May-2012, 17:29
I figure they ought to be paying us dividends, after all, don't the citizens deserve the income from the extractive industries that exploit the public lands?

But my philosophy is that the government should be making a profit and distributing it to the masses rather than the way it is now, where we have to pay taxes or go to jails we borrowed money to build.

Peter J. De Smidt
6-May-2012, 18:12
$5 a day seems very reasonable to me, even if the only facility you use is the car park.




Steve's right.

Heroique
6-May-2012, 18:40
2) More broadly, the Nat’l Forest can not charge fees for any site, unless, among a few other requirements, the site includes all of the following amenities:

• Designated, developed parking.
• A permanent toilet facility.
• A permanent trash receptacle.
• Interpretive materials (a sign, exhibit, or kiosk).
• Picnic tables.
• Security services (meaning the area could be patrolled by USFS or local law-enforcement personnel).


I use the Nat’l Forests all the time in my region – the forests & fees are everywhere – so for many years running, I’ve happily paid $30 for the annual Northwest Forest Pass. I don’t even use NF facilities, except very rarely, and I still feel like I’m getting a great deal.

The more I think about this “just-hike-and-pay-no-fee” rule, the more unhappy I am with it – probably just as unhappy as the Nat’l Forests.

If I see anyone parking “just to hike” and paying no fee – certainly their right – I better not see them reading the interpretive sign, or I’ll remind them to pony up! :D

Sal Santamaura
6-May-2012, 18:49
...The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is generally considered the nuttiest of the federal courts of appeal..."Generally considered" only by those who lean hard right. Like, for example current Supreme Court majority. Those with a liberal outlook (who make up a large portion of our country's population) generally consider the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to be appropriately progressive. I've not reviewed the specifics of this case and am simply responding to your generalization.


...been reversed by the Supreme Court more times than any other circuit court of appeals (or maybe more times than all the others put together, I forget which)...The Supreme Court majority reversing those decisions is generally considered by those with a liberal outlook (who make up a large majority of our country's population) to be the nuttiest in a long, long time. :D

Henry Ambrose
6-May-2012, 19:27
Sal, I like your style but your politics are as nutty as the 9th Circuit's.

Which (to steal your pitch and build on it) is the circuit most reversed by the Supreme Court whose decisions in reversing the 9th Circuit are generally considered by those with a reasonable, sane and normal outlook (who make up a large majority of our country's population) to be completely correct in that they corral the vast overreaches and downright lunatic decisions of a maverick left leaning circuit.

That said, everyone should consider that we've already paid for the parks and other government owned lands at least once with our tax dollars. Charging user fees is contradictory to the standard of "public lands" which used to be for the use of everyone (the public). Since Congress can't be bothered to appropriate enough money to cover the current expenses of administrating these lands and those in charge of administrating want to gather more lands even though they don't have a budget to keep up what they've already got -- here we are being asked to pay twice or three times for the same thing.

I pay user fees willingly because I value the use I receive, which sometimes can be justified because there has been special effort made to make access better or easier. But I do always have in the back of my mind that I, or some other citizens before me, have already paid once for those public facilities.

Anyway, its not "law" yet. Its just been sent back to the district court for trial. Given the government's strong interest in maintaining the current practice I doubt that we'll see any change in the law as a result of this action.

Thad Gerheim
6-May-2012, 19:36
Steve's right.

Hey, this would mean I would owe more than $1050 since the beginning of last October. And what about today, when I parked in five different spots along the Salmon River? Peter, if you go as a cow and bring along your calf the fee is only $13.20 for the month and that includes all you can eat. The county I live in is about the size of New Hampshire and 97% federally owned! This is public land that belongs to the people in New Jersey too, which is good because they and the politicians from all the other states make the choices as what to do with it, and therefore should pay their fair share also.
Really, this is a tough one since the government keeps cutting funding for our public lands. I'd, maybe, be for an annual fee or a tax on hiking boots.

Brian C. Miller
6-May-2012, 20:28
Part of the problem with the national parks is that the facilities there require upkeep, and a lot of them in Washington state are really lagging in the available money for exactly that. The yearly pass looks good to me, and a $5 day use fee is reasonable. I have gone to areas that require a use fee in advance, and that's perfectly reasonable.

What I don't want is a photography fee. We, the people, own the land, so why should any additional fee be imposed? I could see it for movie production, which has a significant impact, but not for photography.

John Kasaian
6-May-2012, 20:31
No fees in the NFs in my area other than for campgrounds, plowed sno-parks in the winter, and fire wood cutting.

Heroique
6-May-2012, 22:11
BTW, I’m pretty sure the circuit court’s opinion is now the law of the land for the listed states, even though the decision has been sent (remanded) to the district court level. The district court(s) must follow it and now issue an order consistent with it. However, the Forest Service might ask for a rehearing, or go to the Supreme Court.

Steve Smith
6-May-2012, 22:35
I'd have no problem supplying a few dollars if it went for upkeep and etc. But it's nature as intended if you don't have to pony up cash to visit a collectively owned resource.

In England we don't have National Parks to the same scale as you do in the US but we do have areas controlled by The National Trust. Many of these have car parks with a voluntary payment system rather than a formal fixed price charge.


Steve.

Sal Santamaura
6-May-2012, 23:30
...Those with a liberal outlook (who make up a large portion of our country's population)...

...those with a liberal outlook (who make up a large majority of our country's population)...It's too late to edit; I rushed an addition to my post and screwed it up. The "second chorus" was intended to be a refrain of the first, i.e. portion, not majority. Haste makes waste.


Sal, I like your style but your politics are as nutty as the 9th Circuit's.

Which (to steal your pitch and build on it) is the circuit most reversed by the Supreme Court whose decisions in reversing the 9th Circuit are generally considered by those with a reasonable, sane and normal outlook (who make up a large majority of our country's population) to be completely correct in that they corral the vast overreaches and downright lunatic decisions of a maverick left leaning circuit...Not withstanding my word salad, you are clearly demonstrating the polarization that tears this country apart. A large portion of the US population agrees with many, if not most, progressive decisions made by courts such as the 9th Circuit and disagrees when SCOTUS overturns them. That liberal segment, approximately as numerous as are conservatives, finds the SCOTUS majority "nutty," not reasonable, sane or normal.

The fact that our election results so frequently approach 50-50, decided by extremely small margins, offers little hope consensus or rational compromise is in the cards. I find the situation sad and have no prescription to improve it. My coping strategy is to spend time hiking and photographing far away from people. :(

Brian Ellis
7-May-2012, 05:39
It's too late to edit; I rushed an addition to my post and screwed it up. The "second chorus" was intended to be a refrain of the first, i.e. portion, not majority. Haste makes waste.

Not withstanding my word salad, you are clearly demonstrating the polarization that tears this country apart. A large portion of the US population agrees with many, if not most, progressive decisions made by courts such as the 9th Circuit and disagrees when SCOTUS overturns them. That liberal segment, approximately as numerous as are conservatives, finds the SCOTUS majority "nutty," not reasonable, sane or normal.

The fact that our election results so frequently approach 50-50, decided by extremely small margins, offers little hope consensus or rational compromise is in the cards. I find the situation sad and have no prescription to improve it. My coping strategy is to spend time hiking and photographing far away from people. :(

Actually your responses to my statement about how the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is viewed are a perfect demonstration of the polarization that tears this country apart and that you claim to find so sad. I said nothing about the politics of the 9th Circuit. I'd be willing to bet that most people here know little if anything about that court or what kind of decisions it renders or anything else about it. And for all one could gather from my message, the court could be considered nutty for any number of reasons having nothing to do with its social agenda. My statement was apolitical and was relevant to the OP's original message (i.e. what the 9th circuit does about fees in the national forests may not be followed by other courts because the 9th circuit is something of a maverick court). But you had to chime in with a political response.

As an aside, despite your defense of the 9th circuit on the basis of the popularity of its decisions, what a majority of the population likes or dislikes isn't supposed to be relevant to a court's decision. Court's are supposed to apply the law as best they can, without regard to whether their decisions are popular or not (the principal argument against electing judges and the reason why federal judges have lifetime appointments). Clearly that's an ideal, not the way things actually work in varying degrees in various types of cases with various judges. But it's an ideal that good judges seek to attain.

Old-N-Feeble
7-May-2012, 07:31
Steve... Here in the US, if we had a voluntary "honor system" for payment... the parks would go broke. ;)

Old-N-Feeble
7-May-2012, 07:36
Sal / Brian... I like being a fence-riding nonafiliatory closer-to-Libertrian-than-anything-else person. This way I can disagree with nearly everyone because they're all wrong about something very important!! ;)

ROL
7-May-2012, 08:39
$5 a day seems very reasonable to me, even if the only facility you use is the car park.


Steve.

:D :D :D :D

"Car Park". How quaint. You ain't from around these parts are ye? Seriously, not a western sensibility. Think more in terms of FREE–DOM to use public lands in any way you or your Mexican drug cartel can defend with your right to bear arms.

Mark Stahlke
7-May-2012, 09:00
Keep in mind we’re talking Nat’l Forests – not Nat’l Parks, Nat’l Monuments, Nat’l Seashores, state forests, etc.Reading the replies, it seems some folks overlooked this important line from the original post. Maybe it needs to be restated.

This is National Forests only. Not National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, state forests, parks, etc.

Sal Santamaura
7-May-2012, 13:33
Actually your responses to my statement about how the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is viewed are a perfect demonstration of the polarization that tears this country apart and that you claim to find so sad. I said nothing about the politics of the 9th Circuit...What you posted characterized 9th Circuit decisions as generally considered "nutty." You failed to specify who was doing the considering, implying that "generally" referred to the overall population. That's simply wrong. I merely attempted to correct other readers' potentially mistaken impressions (especially those outside this country) that a majority of our citizens generally disagree with said decisions.


...I'd be willing to bet that most people here know little if anything about that court or what kind of decisions it renders or anything else about it...You'd be surprised at how many people who aren't lawyers like you know something about the 9th Circuit and what kind of decisions it renders. Assuming ignorance is not wise.


...And for all one could gather from my message, the court could be considered nutty for any number of reasons having nothing to do with its social agenda. My statement was apolitical and was relevant to the OP's original message (i.e. what the 9th circuit does about fees in the national forests may not be followed by other courts because the 9th circuit is something of a maverick court). But you had to chime in with a political response...There is not a single judge, at any level, who does not interpret facts and law through the prism of their own experience and outlook. That is an inescapable fact of their being human beings. You characterize this as a "social agenda." If you do that, it would be equally valid to ascribe the SCOTUS' majority's decisions to their social agenda.

By the way, Henry introduced "my politics" with his post. I just pointed out that your generalization was invalid.


...As an aside, despite your defense of the 9th circuit on the basis of the popularity of its decisions, what a majority of the population likes or dislikes isn't supposed to be relevant to a court's decision...I didn't say decision popularity was relevant. I just pointed out that your generalization was invalid.


...Court's are supposed to apply the law as best they can, without regard to whether their decisions are popular or not (the principal argument against electing judges and the reason why federal judges have lifetime appointments). Clearly that's an ideal, not the way things actually work in varying degrees in various types of cases with various judges. But it's an ideal that good judges seek to attain.I give full credit to the vast majority (word use intentional this time :) ) of jurists, including those who make up the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, for actually applying the law as best they can, without regard to decision popularity. In fact, I suspect that the current SCOTUS majority completely disregards public opinion when writing opinions. How else could the prism of their outlook/experiences result in so many unpopular decisions? :D

Drew Wiley
7-May-2012, 13:40
Wierd. I've never even seen a Forest Service fee for anything other than developed campsite use. We do have SnoPark paid permits in winter, but that goes to the transportation agency (Caltrans) to keep the turnouts plowed for skiers. Where has this
been happening?

wager123
7-May-2012, 14:06
$5 bucks
pay the fee the NFS needs all the funds they can get! let make sure we have a NF or NP to go to !! help support them. if we don't they may not be here in the future.

Heroique
7-May-2012, 15:47
Weird. …Where has this been happening?

Nowhere near the remotest areas where you go and make extremely original geological and anthropological discoveries and where you sleep and sing with the wildest wolves and wiliest coyotes and scratch them behind the ears before escaping by a hair’s breadth from angry black bears and snarling cougars by glissading down rarely visited glaciers with no need for map or compass because you spend so much of your life here and know your way around the sun-bleached skeletons of brave explorers who didn’t quite have your directional sense and if only everybody else did they could come here too and experience the real wilderness in all its primitive glory and lonely splendor and not have to worry about ... standard amenity fees.

Drew, please don’t take my run-on sentence seriously – just having some good clean fun. :D

My real reply is to visit this U.S. National Forest link about Standard Amenity Fees (http://www.fs.fed.us/passespermits/about-rec-fees.shtml) which will put the appellate court’s “just-hike-don’t-pay” decision (in post #1) in a helpful context. Your Golden State & its beautiful national forests fall in its jurisdiction.

Drew Wiley
7-May-2012, 16:01
National Forests aren't hurting for funds. You've got timber harvesting, grazing, mining, drilling, recreation, and a great many private inholdings. Every time I pass a Forest Service marker stating, Land of Many Uses, I am subconcsiously reading it as "Land of Many Abuses". The amt of land is invoved is vast, and the Forest Service has more deadbeat incompetent employees than just about any other agency I can think of, except the military perhaps. Some districts are well run, but many are not. It is also a very big complex system, with only a fraction of it overlapping into designated Wilderness or protected parklands. Don't confuse it with the Natl Park system.

Drew Wiley
7-May-2012, 16:11
Oh - just missed your post Heroique. Thanks for the link. And indeed, I don't think I ever
visit those kinds of crowded spots. My weekend choices can be pretty popular statistically,
like Pt Reyes (NP), or the East Bay Regional Parks, but given the amt of land involved, its
pretty easy to find solitude. I grew up on Natl Park land, right across the road from the
head Forest Service dude, who had a hot feud going with the landowner in the other direction, all stemming from a survey error back in the 40's. If you got the necessary degree for a "serious" job in the Forest Service you got stuck in some office pushing paper
(or now keyboard buttons). Only high-school dropouts got jobs in the field, mostly doing
nothing except an ocassional arson job for overtime pay.

Old-N-Feeble
7-May-2012, 17:34
Actually, Heroique, that is not a run-on sentence because it's well-structured. It's a f-ing long one though. ;)

falth j
7-May-2012, 17:42
With all of the pressure on our park systems to produce or close,


I don't mind paying the toll, it is short shrift for the experience.


Unfortunately, someone in government seems to have made a poor decision to allow concessionaires to occupy property, but the property they use and occupy is being run into the ground.

There seems to be little in the way of maintenance or repairs being accomplished at some parks in the way of facilities maintenance let alone, improvement.

For a mere $10 bucks, you can get a lifetime pass if you are but 62 years of age.


Witness the state of califonia's sanctions to close over 70 of its state parks because of 'budget constraints'.

Perhap's it is the one good value we as taxpayers get for such a benefit received.


Roads are great for the most part.

I can't imagine attending any park without a potty, and thrown in the bargan is free toilet paper!

And, some quibble about the 'fee'?

Frank Petronio
7-May-2012, 18:05
They threaten to close parks so you vote for their pork-barrell budgets. The politicians are really nothing more than extortionists.

Jeff Conrad
7-May-2012, 20:59
The Ninth Circuit is nutty? Clearly in the eye of the beholder. They indeed have the greatest number of reversals because they hear more cases—they’re 2.5 times the size of any other circuit. The last time I checked, their rate of reversal was higher than the average of the other circuits, but only slightly so. In one sense the 9th Circuit are a bit nutty because the judges span the political spectrum. Chief Judge Kozinsky (a Reagan appointee) is somewhere near the middle, at times with a decidedly libertarian streak. One of his more interesting opinions was in Duran v. City of Douglas (1990), aka the “finger” case.

But as relates to the original post, we need not concern ourselves with the sanity of the Court. Given the statutory language, a decision other than the one reached would have demonstrated utter contempt for the English language as expressed in the plain words of the statute. This has nothing to do with whether it’s reasonable for the FS to charge a fee—it’s rather a matter of law. I agree with Judge Gettleman that the statute is overly prescriptive—it’s akin to having the kernel of a computer OS provide trigonometric functions. But the law is as it is, and if it isn’t reasonable, the FS should seek to have it amended rather than blatantly violate it.

The FS garner no sympathy for claiming “Chevron” immunity, which simply held that when a statute requires specifics (essentially, an agency regulation) to implement, the agency’s interpretation of language is given great deference because they are assumed to possess the expertise in the regulated area, especially on complex technical issues. Chevron involved such issues; the REA does not. To me, claiming Chevron immunity demonstrates that the FS want the freedom to interpret ordinary words how ever they damn well please, with no accountability. I respectfully disagree.

It’s tough to forget the outrageous interpretation the FS made of some of the plain terms in Public Law 106-206 (which covers photography and filming on federal lands). Technically, these terms are in the FS Handbook rather than regulation, so they might not support a conviction. Provided that someone had the time and energy and money to contest a citation. And field challenges to People with Guns usually get resolved in favor of the possessors. I’ve long imagined that any challenge to these interpretations would be met with a claim of Chevron immunity—looks like I’m not simply paranoid ... though defining a “prop” is hardly comparable to defining a “new stationary source,” there’s apparently no assurance that someone would maintain that it is. If nothing else, the Adams court’s decision would seem to disfavor such nonsense.

The FS have a track record of pushing it with respect to entrance fees. For years, a Golden Eagle Pass (now a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass) supposedly avoided entrance fees to FS lands, covered by the additional $15 cost over that of a National Parks Pass. Yet many FS locations required “shuttle fees” and similar BS to enter the lands. Protests usually got nowhere; I usually paid the fee in preference to dying in a gun battle with the ranger (especially since I wasn’t armed). I probably had triable cases, but couldn’t see tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to save $50 worth of bogus entry fees.

I have no problem with reasonable entrance fees. But they should be charged in accordance with laws. If an entrance fee should be charged, the law should be changed to allow do doing. And I really have an issue with paying an entrance fee for which I’ve already paid a fee to avoid (though I concede I haven’t been hit with this for a while).

Having said all that, I repeat what I’ve previously said many times: most rangers—be they in any of the federal agencies, or even in the California DPR—are great folks, far more eager to help than to hassle. Unfortunately, there are a handful of assholes—such as our friends in Malibu Creek State Park—who seem to see their main roles as pushing people around. And laws that even remotely lend themselves to misinterpretation serve to enable such miscreants. And for good or for ill, the actions of the few miscreants are remembered long after the actions of helpful majority are forgotten.

Again, the issue here isn’t with whether a modest entrance fee is reasonable, but rather a matter of the FS obeying the law. I thinks the Court’s opinion speaks pretty directly to the latter.

John Kasaian
8-May-2012, 01:20
I don't know of a single National Forest which I am familiar with that charges fees for day use (at least in the past 50 years) National Parks & National Monuments and State Parks, yes, but no National Forests.

Heroique
8-May-2012, 03:51
Here’s a typical fee sign we see in Washington (and Oregon) national forests – often at popular trailhead parking sites.

Also, the two types of Northwest Forest Pass you can hang from your vehicle’s mirror when you park at areas like this. This particular pass is for Washington and Oregon:


• The orange pass is the $30 annual pass. I’m the proud owner of one of these.
• The blue pass is the $5 day pass. On this one, you write the date of your visit in the white box. In ink, my friend!

The similar pass for (Southern) California is the Adventure Pass.

If all you do is park and hike w/o using facilities, the appellate court’s decision says: Throw the passes away, no fee for you. Good news for some, unhappy news for others. (See post #1 for the complete list of “9th Circuit” Western states).

Jim Jones
8-May-2012, 06:28
I don't mind paying for the use of federal and state parks, forests, and historical sites. It's a tiny fraction of the cost of visiting such places. The improvements such money pays for can greatly enhance my visits. I don't even mind paying taxes, escept to support the recreation of freeloaders.

Michael Gordon
8-May-2012, 07:40
I'm happy to pay the fee once the the DOI begins to charge fairly for grazing, timber, and mining royalties on western public lands (you can graze a cow on NF public lands for $1.35 per month (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/newsroom/2012/january/NR_01_31_2012.html), and they want $5 from me to take a half-hour walk? WTF?). This is a very complex issue and only a fraction of your fees stay on the local forest; the rest goes to DC. If you think you're helping to keep the forest doors open and the forest in good shape by being taxed twice to use your public lands, you have a lot of reading to do at this site: http://www.westernslopenofee.org/

At least in Southern California, the fee demonstration program (note that it has not been permanently authorized by congress) spends more on collection than on what the collected fees are alleged to do: Habitat Restoration, Visitor Services, Repair, Maintenance, & Facility Enhancement, Law Enforcement. If the USFS can flip these figures and actually follow the LAW as set forth by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, I'll consider contributing beyond what my taxes already do.

Old-N-Feeble
8-May-2012, 08:19
Commercial use is lobbied for. Our politicians are bought by corporations. We, as individuals, don't have the power to do a damned thing and we won't band together to make a difference either.

ROL
8-May-2012, 08:34
Here’s a typical fee sign we see in Washington (and Oregon) national forests – often at popular trailhead parking sites.

Also, the two types of Northwest Forest Pass you can hang from your vehicle’s mirror when you park at areas like this. This particular pass is for Washington and Oregon:


• The orange pass is the $30 annual pass. I’m the proud owner of one of these.
• The blue pass is the $5 day pass. On this one, you write the date of your visit in the white box. In ink, my friend!

The similar pass for (Southern) California is the Adventure Pass.

If all you do is park and hike w/o using facilities, the appellate court’s decision says: Throw the passes away, no fee for you. Good news for some, unhappy news for others. (See post #1 for the complete list of “9th Circuit” Western states).

Feeling sorry you posted yet? It appears many posters just don't have any experience with these fees, and so they're confusing the thread by talking out of their posterior orifices (...what else is new). Anyway, this has been a huge issue in some NF lands in the Pacific Northwest and the Angeles NF, for many years. Incredibly, you can drive forest roads, but you must have an annual pass to PARK – for any purpose, much the same as SNO-PARK. Thanks for the update.

Drew Wiley
8-May-2012, 09:01
Hmm ... seems to be a lot of confusion here between Parks and NF land. Yeah, I guess I've
READ about NF fees in the NW, but have never personally encountered them, except perhaps a 2.00 parking fee at Eagle Cr in the Columbia Gorge. I'm from California, so don't
have any experience with fees here. Sorry to hear about you folks south of the border in
LA.

Doremus Scudder
8-May-2012, 09:12
I don't really mind paying a user fee to the US Forest Service or the BLM or whatever federal agency manages the forest.

What irks me is paying fees to companies that have been hired to "manage" our public lands. Outsourcing to for-profit firms is not a viable or just solution to forest management and funding problems. There are all to many of these arrangements in the NW. The Forest Service does the work, makes the improvements and the land-management companies make the profit. Not my idea of public land management at all.

Best,

Doremus

mandoman7
8-May-2012, 10:47
In the regional parks in our area, people will gather to drink beer after work if there are no fees. Minimum fees seem to affect people's behavior in positive ways at times.

Drew Wiley
8-May-2012, 11:35
All our regional parks around here (the most extensive system in the nation) are strictly enforced non-alcohol. These parks are mainly funded by modest property tax add-ons with
enthusiatic local support. Parking fees are seasonally collected at a few of the more developed picnic areas, though most parks have walk-in roadside parking too. A completely
different scenario than the State Parks which are having financial difficulty. But even NP
lands around here like GGNRA and Pt Reyes Natl Seashore do not charge any fees. This is
a case of where an abundance of open space creates wide public support, since almost
every local community benefits from it.

John Kasaian
8-May-2012, 12:32
In the regional parks in our area, people will gather to drink beer after work if there are no fees. Minimum fees seem to affect people's behavior in positive ways at times.
How is drinkong beer not positive? At least good beer?

false_Aesthetic
8-May-2012, 13:59
Yeah its like $30 in California for a year long adventure pass or $5 for a day pass. They're both avail at most gas stations around the forests and, of course, at the ranger stations or whatever you call em.

The $30 pass is the deal of the century. Imagine how much something like that would cost if you were setting it up for a chain of theaters, bowling alleys, 6 Flags, Chuck-E-Cheese, etc. Even if the fees were tripled I'd still think it was a great deal.

However, if I still lived in Illinois I don't think I'd feel the same way.

Drew Wiley
8-May-2012, 14:25
The popular picnic/visitor center lots here in the EBRPD have a ranger shack, but the big
areas are daily checked out by dedicated helicopter overflights. They've got a pilot and
another guy with hi-powered binoculars on a gyro stabilizer. They circled over me a few
times, but now once they see that big wooden Ries anywhere they just ignore me. A couple big pot operations have been spotted and raided however. Up in the narco counties, that's probably a huge economic boost to the FS. Not all "taxes" go on the books!

Jeff Conrad
8-May-2012, 15:54
The Adventure Pass in Southern California forests was one of the lands I had in mind in my earlier post. The first time I encountered this was driving through the Angeles National Forest about a dozen years ago. The REA was fairly new, and I’d never heard of an “Adventure Pass”; from reading the sign, it was not clear just when I needed the pass, nor was there any indication of where I might get one. There were no ranger stations nearby of which I was aware, and the nearest store or gas station was about 20 miles back, so even had I known how to get the pass, it would have entailed 40 extra miles of driving—not exactly making compliance easy. And when was a pass needed? Driving through the forest on state highway 3? Hiking? Taking a picture from a scenic overlook?

I called the forest headquarters several times, and got several different answers ... though I was told I didn’t need a pass to drive through the forest, one person said I would need one if I hiked away from the car, another said I would need it to set up a tripod, and another said I might need one just to get out of the car ... suffice it to say I was unimpressed. If the FS couldn’t figure out when a pass was needed, how could anyone else? I encountered a fair number of others who had the same reaction.

A few years later, an Adventure Pass was included with a Golden Eagle Pass purchased from one of the four SoCal forests that required it. I asked what the deal was for someone who got the GE Pass elsewhere (for the same fee), and couldn’t really get an answer—one person said I could just leave the GE Pass on the dash, another said I would need an Adventure Pass, but couldn’t say whether I could get one for free by showing the GE Pass. I haven’t been through the Angeles for a number of years, so I can’t really speak to enforcement. I’ve spoken with several people who got citations who said they simply tore them up and never heard anything further.

Like a lot of folks here, I don’t have a problem with a reasonable fee, provided it’s clear when I need to pay it and that I don’t need to jump through hoops to get it. And if I purchase a pass that covers entrance to all federal public lands, I don’t want to get hit with an extra charge just to get out of the car—to me, that interpretation of “entrance” is pedantic to the point of absurdity.

In any event, most of these considerations now seem moot—at least for a while. And though the decision is binding authority only in the 9th circuit, it well may be persuasive authority in others—as the Ninth’s decision in Bryan v. MacPherson (TASERing a motorist who posed no threat) seems to be taken. As the Adams Court noted in quoting Brown v. Gardner, “Ambiguity is a creature not of definitional possibilities but of statutory context.” And here the statutory context seem pretty clear. Perhaps this isn’t what Congress intended, but if that’s the case, Congress should amend it.

Drew Wiley
8-May-2012, 16:03
I was just reading the fine print on my new NP lifetime Geezer Pass and it stipulates free
access to all Federal lands, including NP's, NM's, BLM, wildlife refuges. Forest Service land
is specifically Federal. If a receipt is not collected at entry, they gave me an official sign to
hand from my dash mirror. Camping per se is a different subject, but discounted. This is a
somewhat more liberal permit than the previous Golden Eagle, and the NP desk ranger was
careful to explain to me the additional new privileges.

Jeff Conrad
8-May-2012, 16:18
Age has its privileges as well as its drawbacks ... I’m not far from being able to get one of those things myself ... $10 forever sure beats $80/ year. So I’m not really in a position to complain. But at least for now, the kiddies get into FS lands for free, too—though I guess without the discounts for other stuff.

goamules
15-May-2012, 06:41
Since I live in Tucson, I was one of those affected by the entrance fee they put up one day to park anywhere along the 2 hour drive up to the top of Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest. And you should have heard me rant when they put the little kiosk up, manned it with a ranger, and hammered in little nasty signs at every pulloff. I had heard this was being done at a lot of locations, nation wide, but according to some above, they've never seen a fee station. So maybe Coronado in Tucson was the only one. I know in the Gila National Forest in NM, there were never fees, but a ranger told me once 10 years ago they were considering adding them - which he thought was wrong.

Having lived in the West for 22 years in NM and AZ, I can tell you the big attraction was FREE, Undeveloped, Wide Open Spaces. The typical progression is to A) build a road (pave it if it's dirt), B) "improve" it with a signboard and toilet, then C) start charging for the maintenance and manning of A and B. Oh, and add D) post on that signboard all the new rules of use, and newly outlawed activities (usually about 25 bullet points). NO THANKS! I moved out west to be free, to pull off the blacktop onto a dirt 4WD path, drive a couple miles in, leave my vehicle and walk or ride my mules whereever the hell I please. I don't need walking paths, toilets, guardrails, guards, or rangers walking up telling me this place is unsafe to camp because the trees are weakened by invasive beatles or fire damage (It's happened multiple times in "improved" areas).

“We can have wilderness without freedom; we can have wilderness without human life at all, but we cannot have freedom without wilderness, we cannot have freedom without leagues of open space beyond the cities, where boys and girls, men and women, can live at least part of their lives under no control but their own desires and abilities, free from any and all direct administration by their fellow men. [emphasis mine]”

- Edward Abbey quotes (http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/37218.Edward_Abbey)

John Kasaian
15-May-2012, 07:05
Since I live in Tucson, I was one of those affected by the entrance fee they put up one day to park anywhere along the 2 hour drive up to the top of Mt. Lemmon in the Coronado National Forest. And you should have heard me rant when they put the little kiosk up, manned it with a ranger, and hammered in little nasty signs at every pulloff. I had heard this was being done at a lot of locations, nation wide, but according to some above, they've never seen a fee station. So maybe Coronado in Tucson was the only one. I know in the Gila National Forest in NM, there were never fees, but a ranger told me once 10 years ago they were considering adding them - which he thought was wrong.

Having lived in the West for 22 years in NM and AZ, I can tell you the big attraction was FREE, Undeveloped, Wide Open Spaces. The typical progression is to A) build a road (pave it if it's dirt), B) "improve" it with a signboard and toilet, then C) start charging for the maintenance and manning of A and B. Oh, and add D) post on that signboard all the new rules of use, and newly outlawed activities (usually about 25 bullet points). NO THANKS! I moved out west to be free, to pull off the blacktop onto a dirt 4WD path, drive a couple miles in, leave my vehicle and walk or ride my mules whereever the hell I please. I don't need walking paths, toilets, guardrails, guards, or rangers walking up telling me this place is unsafe to camp because the trees are weakened by invasive beatles or fire damage (It's happened multiple times in "improved" areas).

“We can have wilderness without freedom; we can have wilderness without human life at all, but we cannot have freedom without wilderness, we cannot have freedom without leagues of open space beyond the cities, where boys and girls, men and women, can live at least part of their lives under no control but their own desires and abilities, free from any and all direct administration by their fellow men. [emphasis mine]”

- Edward Abbey quotes (http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/37218.Edward_Abbey)
Amen!

dperez
17-May-2012, 08:13
Reading the replies, it seems some folks overlooked this important line from the original post. Maybe it needs to be restated.

This is National Forests only. Not National Parks, Monuments, Seashores, state forests, parks, etc.

I always purchase the mutli-agency pass (National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass).

I would also point out that there are significant differences between the National Parks and National Forests. National Parks fall under the Department of the Interior, while Forest Service is under the Department of Agriculture. The two agencies have different missions--sometimes conflicting missions.