It is my pleasure to announce to you all that the Mount Evans Fee has been defeated. Five years ago I joined in on a lawsuit against the Forest Service with a grassroots organization known as the Western Slope No Fee Coalition. I was listed as a primary plaintiff on the lawsuit due to my long history and experience with Mount Evans. Back in the 90s, the Forest Service started to collect fees to access the Mount Evans Area. Even though the fee was illegal, they continued to collect the fee, which was a huge cash cow, despite the fact the road was owned by the State of Colorado, and Summit Lake Park was owned by the City of Denver.
Despite this important defeat of a scheme between private interests and the Forest Service, illegal fee operations on public lands continue to pop up all over the nation without the required public review and input. The Forest Service continues to disregard their own rules in the Federal Lands Recreation and Enhancement Act, which is now under congressional scrutiny. Several senators are sponsoring a bill to do away with the entire and highly abused fee system.
After three district court hearings, the fee program at Mount Evans was finally judged illegal and inappropriate with the similar Mount Lemon case near Tucson, Arizona. The fee booth is still present at the base of the Mount Evans road, but as directed in the case, a drive-through lane has been installed allowing visitors to bypass the booth if they plan on accessing the wilderness without utilizing any amenities provided by the Forest Service.
This is a precedent-setting situation. American citizens are urged NOT to pay a fee at ANY national forest or wilderness location if no amenities, such as picnic tables or restrooms, are utilized. Get out and enjoy your recreational lands-and remember they are already bought and paid for, and yours to use for FREE. Do not pay a fee at any national forest or wilderness area-it is ILLEGAL (unless you are paying a private land owner) and you are not obligated to pay that fee (state and national parks are different).
I am honored to have been given the opportunity to take the Forest Service to court and play a part in this victory for the American people.
Last edited by Aaron Johnson on Wed Jun 26, 2013 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I would like to congratulate you on your victory at Mt. Evans. I do need to post this, because of how you put not paying. My parking lots are on my property up here at St. Mary's Glacier. I am not a private concessionaire on USFS property and I expect folks to pay if they park. Just wanted to clear this up, at least for my situation . In a crazy irony, the Clear Creek Ranger opposed me providing my facilities up here when asked for a referral letter from the county during my development review process .
Thanks. I'm surprised I got any response at all. Things are pretty dead around here any more. I posted this because I said I would keep SP folks informed about this particular situation and perhaps the fee situation in general after my departure. I'm guessing most "active" Colorao SP folks really aren't active that much any more.
It's not surprising the FS would intimidate you over your situation. They probably see it as cutting in on their action...or I should say potential action. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there should be NO FEE of ANY KIND payable to the FS involved to access the James Peak Wilderness. If there is, it was never announced and as with all fee schemes, it is an illegal operation under their own FLREA guidelines. So please inform me if they have pulled a fast one and are charging or thinking of charging a fee up there. If so, it will be reported to the WSNF promptly and appropriate legal action will be taken.
It's YOUR land, and if people use it, they should pay your requested fee. With your operation already installed, it sours the FS' prospects to collect money from folks likely already preferring to pay you. It makes the prospect of "setting up shop" not as profitable. You're unwanted competition. I say keep it up. The FS has no business collecting money from us as taxpayers to access land we have already paid for. But with your land there conveniently located, if folks want to pay you for the convenience, more power to them and you. That's free enterprise and it's what America operates best on.
Thanks for the response and if you want to let me know what the FS is doing without posting here, feel free to PM me.
ADDITION: I added "unless you are paying a private land owner" to my original post.