- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The U.S. Forest Service was wrong for charging fees to four park visitors who wanted to hike publicly owned land in Southern California but not use the park facilities, a U.S. District Court Judge has ruled.

The hikers brought a claim against the Forest Service, saying they shouldn’t have been charged the $5 daily fee, or $30 annual cost, for an Adventure Pass because they weren’t using any developed facilities, but only walking the property, the Orange County Register reported.

Judge Terry Hatter Jr. agreed, and said the Forest Service can’t charge fees for hikers and walkers at certain California-based parks, including those in Los Padres and San Bernardino.

The Forest Service said it will examine the ruling in more depth, but will allow visitors to park for free at the public lands in the meantime, as long as they don’t use restrooms and picnic tables.

The Forest Service, meanwhile, has been looking at its fee system at parks around the nation, prodded in part by lawsuits brought for similar reasons.