Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Forest fees struck down by court; end HIRA fees

Feds have been wrongly charging you public lands fees away from facilities.

TUCSON -- The US Forest Service has lost an important court case on their controversial public land fees.

This important legal ruling should lead to an end of the agency's scam HIRA fees on Mt. Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Range.

Read more in this clip from today's Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, Cyndy Cole reporting:

A Sedona backpacker has won a legal victory in a case questioning whether hikers, horse riders and others must buy a pass to visit much of the unimproved 160,000-acre forest surrounding that city.

The case is important because it calls into question the legality of charging someone a fee to use a wilderness area or unimproved trailhead in more than 90 other Forest Service areas nationwide. It also opens the door for others to ask that some Red Rock pass citations be dismissed.

"We've got millions and millions of acres of public land that are going to be freed up by this decision" if it stands, said Kitty Benzar, president of the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition.

"If you're just on a forest road somewhere in the Coconino and Kaibab and you pull over and spend the night, they can't charge you for that," Benzar said.

As your Arizona State Representative, I will be watching to see if the Obama administration chooses to follow the court's order, or decides to waste a lot more time and taxpayer's money pursuing a wasteful frivolous appeal.

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