Friday, February 10, 2012

Adams v. U.S. Forest Service

Feb 9: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 10-16711. On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (REA) prohibits the United States Forest Service from charging fees '[s]olely for parking, undesignated parking, or picnicking along roads or trailsides,' for 'hiking through . . . without using the facilities and services,' and '[f]or camping at undeveloped sites . . . .' 16 U.S.C. § 6802(d)(1)(A), (D) & (E). Despite these clear prohibitions, the Forest Service collects fees from all drivers who park their vehicles in a mile-wide piece of the Coronado National Forest running along the 28–mile Catalina Highway, the only paved road to the summit of Mount Lemmon, a heavily used recreational area an hour's drive from downtown Tucson, Arizona.
    Four recreational visitors sued, seeking a declaration that the Forest Service was exceeding the scope of its authority under the REA by charging fees to those who drive to Mount Lemmon, park their cars, then picnic, hike, or camp in nearby undeveloped areas. Plaintiffs also sought to enjoin the Forest Service from collecting such fees. The district court granted defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Plaintiffs appealed. The Appeals Court ruled, "Because plaintiffs are correct that the Forest Service's fee structure contravenes the plain language of the REA, we reverse the district court's dismissal of Count I and remand to allow plaintiffs to pursue that claim."
    The Appeals Court said further, "In sum, the statutory language is clear. The Forest Service's interpretation is thus entitled to no deference. Chevron, 467 U.S. at 842-43. As alleged by plaintiffs, the Forest Service's fee structure at the Mount Lemmon HIRA [High Impact Recreation Area] does not comport with the REA's express prohibition on charging fees for parking and then hiking through the HIRA without using the facilities and services, camping in undeveloped areas, or picnicking on roads or trailsides. The district court thus erred in dismissing plaintiffs' claim. . .the REA unambiguously prohibits the Forest Service from charging
fees in the Mount Lemmon HIRA for recreational visitors who park a car, then camp at undeveloped sites, picnic along roads or trailsides, or hike through the area without using the facilities and services. We therefore reverse the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss Count I and remand to the district court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
    Access complete opinion (click here). [#Land, #CA9]
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1 comment:

forestry consultants pa said...

Is there a resource stating the outcome of this case?