There has been a long-winded legal battle that has been raging since the inception of the National Forest’s Adventure Pass program, and now it appears that opponents to the program have won. A ruling by the 9th Circuit Court forces the Forest Service to drastically scale back the fee areas, ending a stream of revenue that has benefitted National Forests since 1997.
Although signage throughout certain areas state that a fee is required to park, the fees have always been under “voluntary compliance,” meaning you could park without a pass and not pay the ticket left on your windshield. The decision by the 9th Circuit ruled that the fees were in violation of the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
Opponents say that the fees prevent poor families from entering the forests, and that the fees are a form of double taxation, since tax payers have paid for the land already. Some have questioned how the revenue is managed, pointing to a 4% annual increase of revenue that leaves the forests and goes to Washington.
A 2005 article from the Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club outlines some of their criticisms of the fee program, including how the fees subsidize mining and logging.
LA Times article