Thursday, April 03, 2008

This Is Wrong
A hiking group leader was fined for a picture on the internet.
SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST - The U.S. Forest Service is enforcing the 10-person limit rule in the Lusk Creek, Garden of the Gods and Bay Creek Wilderness areas.

On Friday, the Forest Service issued a citation to John O'Dell, chairman of the River to River Trail Society and chairman of Saline County Tourism Board, charging he was in violation of the law that went into effect last year.

“To the best of my knowledge, he is the only one so far,” Shawnee National Forest spokeswoman Becky Banker said.
O'Dell said the evidence used by the Forest Service was a group photograph on an Internet site indicating the hike was Nov. 3, 2007, in the Lusk Creek Wilderness Area. There are 27 people in the photograph, and the photographer made 28 people in the group on that day. The hike was one of the scheduled Saturday morning hikes of the River to River Trail Society.

O'Dell said the fine was $375 and he was told if he contests the citation in court, the judge could sentence him to $5,000 or six months' imprisonment.
I just spent a lot of time on the Shawnee National Forest website and can find no mention of the 10 or more rule. I assume Mr. O'Dell made an enemy at the park service some how. It seems fishy to me. Here is what Park Spokesperson Becky Banker has to say.
Banker said she is not aware whether the trailheads for the wilderness areas have postings up making people aware of the 10-person group limit.

“I can't tell you it is posted today, but since we have enforced the rule, we have had it posted,” Banker said.

She said the agency's notices on bulletin boards are constantly being torn down.

“We have had press releases, notices here at the office and on the Web site,” Banker said.

Banker said every person that is in a group is considered responsible for the size of the group and is subject to a citation. She did not know if every person in the photograph of the Nov. 3, 2007, should expect a citation.

“The only thing I'm getting in response to that is the situation is under investigation,” Banker said.

The Trail Designation Project's group size limit rule indicates if separate groups come together in one of the three Wilderness Areas and there are more than 10 in the same area they are to separate immediately or risk a citation. Trailheads and horse tie-up areas are exempted.

I have looked on the website and can not find the 10 person limit. Can You?

Update: In comments Lisa From the Forest Service left a link to the pdf that explains the group limitations. I could not find it. So to find it without forest service help. Go to the front page Of the Shawnee National Forest website. Click on current conditions. Click on List of forest orders. Click on Group size limitations. Then download the pdf and open it to read it.

1 comment:

Lisa said...