Explain the forest pass system?

General discussions on hiking in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest
User avatar
Water
Posts: 1237
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by Water » July 16th, 2019, 10:10 am

retired jerry wrote:
July 16th, 2019, 9:46 am
yeah, people misinterpret the Adams case and that other case to say that if you don't use the amenities then you don't have to pay. A favorite topic here :)
I have to plainly disagree. These are the judge's words. Adams is not misinterpreted with this perspective. It's that in other cases there came a settlement which designated places to park and 'pay', is a settlement a ruling on the statute?
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. For example, subsection (d)(1)(D) prohibits fees “for persons who are driving through, walking through, boating through, horseback riding through, or hiking through ․ without using the facilities and services.” 16 U.S.C. § 6802(d)(1)(D) (emphasis added). The statute thus distinguishes between merely recreating in an area and actually using an area's amenities.

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.
How do you interpret the bolded text Jerry? I don't understand how you actually arrive at a different interpretation from what is written there.
Feel Free to Feel Free

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 12744
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by retired jerry » July 16th, 2019, 12:03 pm

he parked in northeast Oregon, some trailhead to Wenaha River

he went to a Forest Service office. They knew nothing.

I think there's an address and telephone number on the ticket which he's going to respond to

User avatar
teachpdx
Posts: 134
Joined: January 21st, 2014, 4:45 pm
Location: Hillsboro, OR

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by teachpdx » July 16th, 2019, 12:27 pm

teachpdx wrote:
July 12th, 2019, 7:17 am
This is such a loaded and heated topic, I'm pulling out the popcorn to see where this thread goes!
This topic never disappoints!

I dream of a day when our public lands are truly open to public recreation, but that would require a substantial increase in federal funding to remove the multitude of fees charged by the multitude of different government agencies. I honestly don't see that happening anytime soon, no matter the politician or party in charge.

Whether the fees are "legal" or not, the Forest Service still relies on them to maintain the very basic level of service they currently provide. I can easily imagine many more trailheads becoming inaccessible and even more trails being completely abandoned if their (shady) revenue stream just dried up. I pay the $30/year because it's one of the only things keeping trails even marginally accessible.

Lastly, I have no issue with quotas/permits for sensitive areas and reasonable administrative fees to cover processing them (the $3/night/group in the Mt. Margaret Backcountry is a good example). There are many more areas that are suffering from over-use and could substantially benefit from a quota system. But additional elevated access fees above and beyond the NWFP (such as the proposed Sisters/Jefferson fees) seem completely ridiculous.

McCarter
Posts: 11
Joined: June 24th, 2019, 8:27 am

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by McCarter » July 16th, 2019, 12:45 pm

kepPNW wrote:
July 16th, 2019, 9:54 am
You knew the word analysis would come to bear, right? Would the suggested "toilet rule" apply to porta-potties, which by their very name don't seem to be a "permanent toilet facility" as written in the law, or...?
I may have been a bit too hasty in endorsing the "Toilet Rule." Mirror Lake Toilet definitely qualifies. Old "toilet" at Bull of the Woods Lookout...maybe. Cat hole I dug to avoid using amenities at the trailhead...who knows!?
Water wrote:
July 16th, 2019, 10:10 am
How do you interpret the bolded text Jerry? I don't understand how you actually arrive at a different interpretation from what is written there.
One thing that should have been mentioned in my previous post is that the Adams case was an "as-applied" challenged by the Plaintiffs. That means they challenged a specific implementation plan for a specific area and the fees as they were applied to them (not a fun sentence, sorry). There is a curious footnote at end of the case discussing the Sherar case (10th Circuit) which was an unsuccessful facial challenge to fees in a Colorado wilderness area. A facial challenge attempts to invalidate the entire implementation plan. These types of challenges have different standards and the rulings create different ramifications. Cool/uncool fact, Sherar was authored by good ole Neil "Enemy of the Long Haul Trucker" Gorsuch!

This means Adams does not control whatever implementation plan created the NW Forest Pass system. Sure the bolded language you reference makes it seem like it does, but that language is "dicta" and cannot be relied on as the law for purposes of the NW Forest Pass. Only the specific legal conclusions are "controlling." So. We have no idea if the NW Forest Pass would survive an as-applied challenge or a facial challenge for that matter, although I suspect it would survive a facial challenge for reason we don't need to get into here.
Water wrote:
July 16th, 2019, 10:10 am
I have to plainly disagree. These are the judge's words. Adams is not misinterpreted with this perspective. It's that in other cases there came a settlement which designated places to park and 'pay', is a settlement a ruling on the statute?
The settlement in Fragosa and Wiechars is binding on the areas it relates to as it was published by the court. The fact that Plaintiffs agreed to settle creates a lot of questions too. If the fees for non-amenity use don't apply, why not take it to the 9th Circuit and get an Adams type ruling? Definitely food for though.

I brought up those cases because they discuss the practicality of enforcing fee programs if each individuals specific "use" or "intent" had to be evaluated. I am of the opinion that if the 9th circuit has to rule on the NW Forest Pass they would be hard pressed to say no fee can be charged for parking at a developed trailhead if you don't use the amenities because courts typically don't like to interpret statutes in ways that make them unworkable. The point of the REA (Congress' intent) was to allow for the implementation of fees in certain areas. The court will take that into account. Although the statute may have been clear on its face as it related to the facts in Adams it could very well not be as they relate to the NW Forest Pass facially or as-applied.

I realize that wasn't the case in Adams. But the USFS was making some pretty bold arguments saying their fee program applied to people who parked on the side of the road (not a trailhead with amenities) just because they were in an area that had amenities. I think the Court was pushing back against their brazen attempts to justify a patently illegal fee scheme. I also think rulings might differ between schemes where you pay at an entrance versus buying a pass to display at select sites.

Whew! That was a lot. Apologies.

Circling back to our original discussion. Until there is a ruling on the NW Forest Pass, the USFS is probably within its rights to charge fees for parking at a developed trailhead even if you are not using the amenities. If you get a ticket you can even pay the fine in opposition and still have standing to sue if you want to get this sorted out for us...PLEASE DO! Gosh, at this point maybe I'll forgo mine this year and do us all a favor and take this thing to the TOP! Comin' back for ya Neil!

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 12744
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by retired jerry » July 16th, 2019, 1:54 pm

I'm glad there's a lawyer around to interpret these things

So, is the plan to restrict access to the Three Sisters and Jefferson Wilderness areas legal?

Over 5 years, the number of people at Green Lakes tripled. (approx numbers). So, next year they're going to require a permit obtained on the internet. The number of people on summer weekends will be limited to about half the current number using it.

Is there any way this can be legally challenged?

McCarter
Posts: 11
Joined: June 24th, 2019, 8:27 am

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by McCarter » July 16th, 2019, 2:08 pm

Thinking more about this, challenges to the NW Forest Pass probably would have to be site specific or however the USFS classifies the different areas.

Here's a link to each NF in Oregon and the sites requiring a pass.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r6/p ... width=full

Look at MHNF...not really as many places as I was expecting. Can pretty much do the whole Clackamas and Bull of the Woods area without one.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r6/passe ... ev2_026969
retired jerry wrote:
July 16th, 2019, 1:54 pm
Is there any way this can be legally challenged?
That is a whole other bag of worms. I had fortunately already been reading up on the cases with the NW Forest Pass in mind. My two cents is, probably not, just thinking about the Sierra, Enchantments, and other heavily regulated wilderness areas that are not National Parks (or entirely that is).

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 12744
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by retired jerry » July 16th, 2019, 2:25 pm

yeah, it is like Enchantments and Sierras

it's weird that a particular administrator can decide that Green Lakes and several other areas are too busy, and therefore he's going to restrict access to the entire area

User avatar
jessbee
Posts: 800
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Contact:

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by jessbee » July 16th, 2019, 3:33 pm

retired jerry wrote:
July 16th, 2019, 2:25 pm
it's weird that a particular administrator can decide that Green Lakes and several other areas are too busy, and therefore he's going to restrict access to the entire area
Yeah, and then retire and let the rest of us deal with the consequences.
Will break trail for beer.

Blog and photos

knote72
Posts: 4
Joined: July 10th, 2019, 2:24 pm

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by knote72 » July 17th, 2019, 3:18 am

Wow this topic really opened up a can of worms! But, it's been enlightening regardless. Even though I shouldn't be surprised at this point, with it being a govt. agency, but it's appalling how the FS keeps trying to charge fees here & there while simultaneously cutting services and restricting access (based on this thread, I'm clearly not alone). Not only that, for the agency given charge of enforcing the rules, they sure do make it complicated and easy to mistakenly break the rules (go figure).

My main concern is that at the end of the day, when it comes time to buy whatever pass I need, I've already been nickle'd and dime'd for each of my other outdoor activities, so at that point I would rather pay as little as possible without getting fined (whether or not they enforce the rules, I'd rather play it safe). My biggest concern is getting a map of all the trail systems (as well as some of those pristine hike-in lakes) in the WNF, and finding out (if possible) which ones require special permits. I have an old WNF paper map, but it's YEARS old (given to me in 2004 I think). Curious where I can find an updated one?

P.S. Given I live near the area, and my friend's house is along the route and near one of the stops, I found a 2nd option to the pass: https://www.ltd.org/system-map/route_91/ this LTD route runs from Eugene to the Mckenzie Ranger Station. If I plan the time right and prepare for a little extra walking, I should just be able to walk to the TH I wanna go to and skip the fee. A bit much just to skip on paying $30, I know, but travel costs considered too it starts to make more sense.

User avatar
Water
Posts: 1237
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Explain the forest pass system?

Post by Water » September 10th, 2019, 9:34 am

Well I got a ticket for parking (though it says it isn't a parking ticket) at Umbrella Falls/Elk Meadows TH in MHNF.
It's for $5 (the daily fee) but if I ignore it, it 'might' become a criminal matter. The wording is frankly ambiguous and to that end ridiculous. Maybe it is an attempt to be gentle with requesting the $5 day use fee in lieu of an actual citation for $50 or whatnot, to make goodwill for those who do not know the scheme and since you can't purchase it at the trailhead.

Anyways as I used no amenities I'll be contesting it and see what the FS does. If they drop it or just give me a full fee for not having paid the day use fee. Having read a bit more I think it is possible if this went to court it would not be found in my favor since the courts do not like the eviscerate the intent of congressional legislation through a little aspect like the prohibition (on charging to park) vs the rest of the legislation which is intended to charge for certain areas. (though I contend you still shouldn't have to pay to park and hike, the FS has NOT make 'significant' investment on the trails which you can access from there.

That's actually an interesting line of thought, if you average the 'investment' in trails vs the facilities (bathroom, garbage, etc) I wonder if the trail expenditures in most cases (shy of million dollar bridges) would even be statistically significant portion of the expenditures at a site.

Does anyone by chance have a photo of the kiosk at that TH? I might have to power up there just for a photo of it to confirm it meets the guidelines required for them to charge.

Cheers
Feel Free to Feel Free

Post Reply