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Exploring SoCal's National Forests Getting Cheaper Thanks to Cuts in "Adventure Pass" Program

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Angeles National Forest (Photo by casualtimetravel via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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If you were hoping to spend more time exploring our National Forests, but got turned off by having to pay admission fees to just walk around, park, or take some photos, the Forest Service is about to make your next visit potentially more affordable.

A ruling released in February by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found in favor of four hikers who objected to having to pay a fee to visit a National Forest, and now the Forest Service is saying they will be cutting back the scope of their "Adventure Pass" fee program.

"The agency proposes eliminating fees for three-quarters of the forest areas where they are now imposed, including 19 in Southern California," reports the L.A. Times. "Many trail heads, day-use sites and general forest areas where fees are now in effect in the region's four national forests will become free, said Tamara Wilton, a California Forest Service manager."

SoCal's Modern Hiker blog explains a bit more how the changes might affect us locally, pointing out that this will likely eradicate the need for many visitors to the trails in the Angeles National Forest to pay any fees.

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The court ruling was based on the argument that while the fee was applied uniformly, visitors did not uniformly use the Forests' resources. Modern Hiker puts this in the context of the Angeles National Forest:

The thinking is someone who parks near Switzer Falls, uses the grills and picnic tables and leaves trash in the dumpsters is using more Forest Service resources than someone who just parks on the side of the Angeles Crest Highway and hikes on a trail for a day. It’s unfair to ask the hiker to pay for those developed improvements at Switzer’s when she’s not using them.

But the Adventure Pass isn't going completely away; there will be 12 fee areas left in SoCal. The reduced fee program is expected to be implemented next year.