6HWbNHN-show-poster2x3-c7tgE2Y.png

Artbound

Start watching
MJ250sC-show-poster2x3-Bflky7i.png

Tending Nature

Start watching
Southland Sessions

Southland Sessions

Start watching
Earth Focus

Earth Focus

Start watching
5LQmQJY-show-poster2x3-MRWBpAK.jpg

Reporter Roundup

Start watching
City Rising

City Rising

Start watching
Lost LA

Lost LA

Start watching
Member
Your donation supports our high-quality, inspiring and commercial-free programming.
Support Icon
Learn about the many ways to support KCET.
Support Icon
Contact our Leadership, Advancement, Membership and Special Events teams.

Appeals Court Ruling Could Affect SoCal Adventure Pass Program

Support Provided By
adventure-pass-ruling

Figueroa Mountain in Los Padres National Forest is one of the many areas where an Adventure Pass is required in parked vehicles | Photo: Damian Gadal/Flickr/Creative Commons License

That $5 permit to access certain parts of national forests in Southern California could soon be a thing of the past, thanks to a recent ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. A panel of judges unanimously agreed with four hikers who objected to paying a fee to use a portion of an Arizona national forest.

"Everyone is entitled to enter national forests without paying a cent," said Judge Robert Gettleman in the February 9 ruling.

San Gabriel Valley Tribune writer Steve Scauzillo explains how it could affect the Adventure Pass, which is only available for the Angeles, San Bernardino, Cleveland and Los Padres national forests:

The strongly worded, 15-page decision says any member of the public who walks, hikes, rides a horse, picnics on the side of a road, camps at undeveloped sites, even parks in a national forest "without using facilities and services" is allowed to do so without being charged. Charging a fee, such as the Adventure Pass, even for someone who visits an area with amenities but doesn't use them, violates the FLREA [or, Federal Lands and Recreation Enhancement Act], according to the decision.
Image: Courtesy USFS

Nonetheless, an Angeles National Forest official did not comment either way when asked by Scauzillo. In the ruling, Gettleman said, "The Forest Service is prohibited from charging an amenity fee solely for parking. There is nothing ambiguous about that text."

Does that relate to fee areas that require an Adventure Pass? Maybe. People can stop their vehicles in a fee area "for activities incidental to through travel (stretch break, photo-opportunity, use a restroom)" without purchasing a pass, according to the Adventure Pass website. And "Congress did allow for fees to be collected from those entering certain developed recreation areas," reported the Arizona Daily Star.

Gettleman acknowledges, says the Star, "that a visitor, after parking, does something else for which the Forest Service is allowed to charge a fee. But that does not permit a fee to be imposed solely because of that mere possibility." He, perhaps, summed it up best this way, as pointed out by Scauzillo:

The Forest Service fails to distinguish--as the statute does--between someone who glides into a paved parking space and sits at a picnic table enjoying a feast of caviar and champagne, and someone who parks on the side of the highway, sits on a pile of gravel, and eats an old baloney sandwich while the cars whizz by. The agency collects the same fee from both types of picnickers. That practice violates the statute's plain text.

The Forest Service has 90 days from the ruling to appeal the court's decision.

Say hello: "Like" SoCal Wanderer on Facebook and follow @SoCal_Wanderer on Twitter to talk about the latest in outdoors with other enthusiasts.

Support Provided By
Read More
Locals walk along the coast of Victoria Beach as the medieval looking tower stands over them.

Five Playful SoCal Beaches Escapes

While most people hit the ocean to catch a wave, here are five SoCal beaches that offer more than just the typical surf and sand.
The landscape at Whitewater Preserve

Where to Explore the Coachella Valley Outdoors (Before It Gets Too Hot)

Whether you’re an off-roader, a two-legged trekker or even an earthquake tourist, here are five great outdoor destinations in the Coachella Valley — no festival pass needed.
Exterior of the Troubadour in West Hollywood.

12 Fascinating Bikeable Spots to Explore in WeHo’s Rainbow District

Whether you’ve got your own wheels or need to borrow some, here are some fascinating points of interest along the first mile of West Hollywood — from intriguing public art to a cornucopia of architectural styles, and even some rock and roll history.