OPB: Suit Filed Over Mt. Hood National Forest Fees

by Rob Manning, OPB

Environmentalists filed a lawsuit Wednesday aimed at the fees being charged to use the Mount Hood National Forest.

The suit argues the U.S. Forest Service is using special permits with vendors to avoid federal procedures and requirements related to recreation sites on public lands. Forests in three states -- including Oregon -- are named in the suit.

The Mt. Hood conservation group, Bark!, is a party to the suit. The group’s project manager, Olivia Schmidt says that fees charged to use the popular Bagby Hot Springs dodged public review. And she says a different spot along the Clackamas River lacks the amenities required for the Forest Service to charge fees.

“We publicly fund the forest service to manage our public lands. They should be free and open and accessible to the public. And when fees are going to be charged to the public, they should be subject to the laws that have been laid out by Congress.”

Officials at the Forest Service didn’t immediately return calls for comment.