Sedona AZ (December 14, 2011) – Southwestern Regional Forester, Corbin Newman has approved the proposed changes to the Red Rock Pass Program which will become effective as early as February of 2012. Changes to the program are a result of an extensive public involvement outreach in 2011 and recommendations from the Arizona Recreation Resource Advisory Council (RRAC). The decision is in compliance with the Federal Lands Enhancement Act that allows for Red Rock Pass revenue to continue to be collected and utilized for the management and conservation of forest land in the Red Rock area. The public can expect to see a significant reduction in the acreage of the existing standard amenity fee area which includes two smaller fee areas and seven standard amenity fee sites, with no changes in the actual fee. We believe these changes are responsive to public desires and carries out the purposes of the Act. The Coconino National Forest will continue to work with the public and the Advisory Council to provide updates on the implementation of the fee area changes.
The Red Rock Pass fee area (MAP) has been reduced by 93 percent from 160,000 acres to 11,000 acres. A Red Rock Pass will be required in two corridor areas and seven individual sites. Specifically, the corridor areas include a several mile stretch along State Route 89A, beginning at Midgely Bridge and extending north to Bootlegger day use area in Oak Creek Canyon; and secondly, State Route 179 beginning at Bell Rock Vista & Pathway and extending north to just past Back O’ Beyond Road. These corridors include: Huckaby Trailhead, Bootlegger, Banjo Bill and Halfway day use areas in Oak Creek Canyon; and Cathedral Rock, Little Horse, Courthouse Butte, Yavapai Vista, and Bell Rock Vista Trailheads along SR 179. Other individual sites include: Honanki, Palatki and V-V Heritage Sites, and Doe/Bear Mountain, Boynton Canyon, Baldwin and Jim Thompson Trailheads.
The Red Rock Pass remains at $5 for a daily pass, $15 for weekly pass and $20 for an annual area pass. Passes are available for purchase at various Forest Service locations, local Chambers of Commerce and a number of local commercial businesses in Sedona. All previously issued annual passes remain valid through their expiration date.
For more information, please contact the Red Rock Ranger District located one mile south of the Village of Oak Creek or call (928) 203-7500.
From the federal judge’s decision in U.S. v Smith:
“The FLREA is an extremely comprehensive and precise statutory scheme clearly delineating specific instances in which the public may be charged an amenity fee for use of the National Forests, and other public lands, and quite plainly prohibiting the agency from establishing any system which requires the public to pay for parking or simple access to trails or undeveloped camping sites.”
While this smaller fee area is a welcome change, it does not address the problem of people being charged a fee for simple access to trails. A policy that is less illegal than the previous one is not the same as a legal policy. If you are merely parking and accessing a trail the law and the judge say you do not need to pay a fee.
Typically, the Forest Service will avoid having to deal with this conundrum in court by not issuing Violation Notices, which can be disputed before a judge. Instead they generally issue Notices of Required Fee. A Notice of Required Fee is NOT A TICKET and can be safely ignored.