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The Bishop bill, which would have allowed the Forest Service and BLM to charge access fees for any activity on all the land under their stewardship, was not enacted before the end of the last session of Congress. It may be re-introduced without changes, in which case the public will need to strongly oppose it once again. But something much better is possible. We need to work with Congress to craft better fee authority legislation that protects the public while allowing reasonable fees for use of developed or specialized facilities. Principles that we believe should be followed, along with model language that adheres to those principles, and background information is posted HERE.
BLM California is proposing a Wilderness access fee for the King Range Wilderness near Arcata. Public comment is more than 90% opposed. Learn more HERE.
California kayaker sues Sequoia National Forest over fees for access to Lake Isabella and the Kern River. Details HERE.
Lawsuit filed challenging the Adventure Pass in southern California. Details HERE.
Lawsuit filed challenging the Forest Service's use of private concessionaires to evade federal recreation fee laws. Details HERE.
Montana volunteers walk away from maintaining the backcountry cabin they built with donated time and materials, because the Forest broke their promise to keep winter use free. Details HERE.
VICTORY! Federal Appeals Court issues sweeping decision invalidating fees for parking, hiking, dispersed camping, and scenic overlooks! Read the ruling HERE.
Forest Service completes an agency-wide review of High Impact Recreation Area fees and recommends massive changes. But will the Forests comply? Read more HERE.
Three members of Congress have called for a complete audit of federal recreation fee programs. Read the letter HERE.
Forest Service releases internal report about High Impact Recreation Areas - but with so many redactions it looks like a top-secret military document! What have they got to hide? Read about HIRAs HERE. See the redacted document HERE.
Los Padres National Forest busts 200 families for playing in the snow. Read the story HERE.
Forest Service blinks in Pacific Northwest!
The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest issued a criminal parking violation notice to a wilderness hiker in August, 2010. Like Jim Smith in Arizona (see below) Tom Halpin asked the court to find that it was the Forest Service that was violating the law, not him. Instead, the Forest Service denied him his day in court by dropping the charges.
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Federal Judge rules against Red Rock Pass in Arizona!
One of the most notorious fee programs in the country has been found in violation of federal law by a judge in Flagstaff! This is a great David and Goliath story - ordinary citizen Jim Smith, representing himself, prevailed over the full might of the U.S. government to get his charges successfully dismissed.
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COLORADO ALERT! Fees proposed for South Colony Basin, access point for four climbing 14,000-foot peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness. MORE
VICTORY! The Forest Service has dropped their plan to eliminate the 50% camping discounts for Senior/Disabled lifetime passholders at concessionaire-managed National Forest campgrounds! Details HERE!
Listen to a 19-minute podcast about Pacific Northwest fees that were approved despite overwhelming public opposition HERE.
From the January 2010 E-Newsletter of Idaho Senator Mike Crapo:
On April 22, 2009, I joined Senator Max Baucus (D-Montana) in re-introducing the Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act, (S.868). This legislation would revoke authority given to federal agencies, with the exception of the National Park Service, in 2004 to institute new fees and increase existing fees at campgrounds, trailheads, and other public areas. As an outdoorsman and legislator, I have always supported fair and reasonable access to our nation’s public lands. Mandatory user fees for access to many of those lands limits accessibility to those who can afford the cost and results in a “pay-to-play” system. That is unacceptable. I also fully recognize that we need to adequately fund recreation activities on federal lands and , in 2010, I will continue to fight in Congress to make sure the funding needs of our public lands management agencies are met.
Forest Service 2008 Visitation Report Shows Continued Decline
The lastest report from the Forest Service National Visitor Use Monitoring program, issued July 23, 2009, shows continued declines in the number of people visiting public lands. This is bad for people, and especially for kids, who need to be spending more, not less, time outdoors. It's also bad for the Forest Service, as they watch the number of people who care about public lands issues dwindle. When no one visits National Forests, who will care if there's a Forest Service or not?
Read the 2008 report HERE. Comparison table by Region for 2001-2008 HERE.
Colorado Counties Inc calls on Colorado's entire congressional delegation to work to repeal the Federal Lands Recreation Act. Read the letter HERE.
Forest Service Northern Region (Montana and Northern Idaho) backs down on new fees under pressure from Senator Baucus. Baucus strongly backs Fee Repeal.
Read the story HERE.
THE FIX IS IN: Western Slope No-Fee Coalition releases report charging that the Forest Service and BLM are obstructing public participation in fee decisions. Press release HERE. Read the report HERE.
Congressional oversight hearing held June 18th. 2008.
Video of hearing and testimony of all witnesses now posted HERE.
Mt Lemmon and Mt Evans