Don Bauder 4:30 p.m., March 27
Forest Service to Repeal Fees at Many Sites
After over a decade of complaints and controversy, the U.S. Forest Service is on the verge of repealing most fees for access to public national parks and forests, which were represented locally by the wildly unpopular Adventure Pass.
Originally introduced in 1996, the pass has been required to park at many trailheads, day-use sites, and general forest areas, including throughout most of the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego’s eastern mountains.
Cost on the passes has ranged $5-8 for day use and $30 for an annual permit through the life of the program. The fees have drawn fire from conservatives as a form of double taxation, as well as from liberals who argued the additional fees served to restrict access to lower-income populations.
The Forest Service now says it will end fees at three-quarters of the sites where they’re currently in place, including at 19 sites in Southern California, but it may be compelled to go even further.
The U.S. Ninth District Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this month concluded charges at the Coronado National Forest in Arizona were improper and sent the case back to a lower court for reconsideration.
A total of 25 areas requiring fees would remain under the Forest Service’s current proposal, including a dozen in Southern California. These areas provide extra amenities which could include toilets, trash cans and picnic benches, or even interpretative signs.