By Miriam Raftery
May 8, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – The U.S. Forest Service cannot charge day use fees to hikers who don’t use facilities, a federal judge ruled on April 30th.
U.S. District Court judge Terry Hatter Jr. found that Cleveland, Angeles, Los Padres and San Bernadino national forests violated the law by requiring paid passes at busy sites, even if hikers were merely parking and not using facilities such as picnic tables or toilets.
Regional passes cost $5 a day or $30 a year. The passes have brought in millions of dollars for the four Southern California forests, the Los Angeles Times reports. A regional Forest Service representative indicated the agency is reviewing the decision and has declined to comment.
In San Diego County, the ruling stands to impact visitors to the Cleveland National Forest, where fees have been imposed even in places with no facilities, such as the popular trail to Cedar Creek Falls in East County (photo).