Lawsuits challenge fees on Colorado public land
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colorado ” Two lawsuits are challenging fees charged to use U.S. Forest Service land, including Mount Evans near Idaho Springs.
Individuals in conjunction with the Western Slope No-Fee Coalition in Durango are suing the Forest Service. A second lawsuit challenges the fees charged at Mount Lemmon in Arizona.
The lawsuits claim the Forest Service is violating the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which allows the agency to charge fees for specific services or amenities.
People who travel to the top of Mount Evans and turn around without stopping along the route are exempt from the $10 fee. But the lawsuit says federal law prohibits fees for parking and using overlooks.
“Many people go up to Mount Evans just to drive up the road, maybe they’ll stop, look at the mountain views for a while, maybe they’ll go to the summit and enjoy the overlook,” David Sherer, one of the plaintiffs told Denver’s KUSA-TV. “But the law says the Forest Service can’t charge for those things.”
Opponents of the fee also contend the Forest Service is illegally charging people who want to visit a Denver city park at Summit Lake, halfway up Mount Evans.
The Forest Service declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Mount Evans opened for the season Friday. It’s one of Colorado’s “fourteeners,” because it stretches 14,264 feet above sea level.
A lawsuit filed in Arizona in early May claims the fee charged to drive up Mount Lemmon Highway near Tucson violates civil rights and federal law. The fees are $5 per day or $20 for an annual pass.
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