Nothing but the Truth!
By Will Schwent
February 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)--The US Ninth Circuit Court has invalidated an unpopular U.S. Forest Service Program called the “Adventure Pass”. This scam charged U.S. citizens to drive, park, or hike in their own public lands and fined them if they did not buy an “Adventure Pass.”
Four hikers in Arizona challenged the Mount Lemmon Pass program and the court issued a scathing criticism of the double taxation of the Adventure Pass.
Most hikers and campers are willing to pay fees to camp in areas with developed campgrounds, running water, fire-pits, barbeques, and picnic tables. But the Adventure Pass fines were applied to tourists who stopped to take a picture, walk the dog , or use the restroom. It became illegal to walk anywhere in the National Forest without a paid-up pass.
Fines were issued to anyone caught legally fishing, hunting, photographing, or simply daydreaming in the forest. Millions of dollars were collected and more rangers where hired to reinforce the program.
Unfortunately, the Adventure Pass will continue in Southern California while the case is under appeal. In Arizona, choice portions of National Forests are being leased to private corporations who collect hiking, camping, and parking fees.
But perhaps the pendulum is swinging the other way. The National Forests are Public, not Private property. Charging the public to visit their own public lands is double taxation without representation and is opposed to the “free public use” of the National Forests Missions Statement. It is time to stop these programs and allow free use of the US National Forest for our children and our children’s children forever.
Will Power is a retired history teacher and creative writing instructor. The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine.