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Forest Service: Maroon Bells fee legitimate
By SCOTT CONDON, THE ASPEN TIMES
A Forest Service review has concluded that the recreation fee it charges visitors to the spectacular Maroon Bells area southwest of Aspen is legitimate.
The agency conducted a nationwide review last year to determine if each individual site where it charges a fee was qualified for the program under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. The agency wasn't looking at individual campgrounds but broader geographic areas such as the Maroon Valley.
The act, approved by Congress in 2000, essentially says the Forest Service has to offer amenities where it charges a fee. It cannot require a forest visitor to pay a fee simply for parking at an obscure trailhead and going for a hike.
Mike Kenealy, recreation special uses coordinator for the White River National Forest, said 96 fee sites across the country were reviewed for compliance with the recreation enhancement act. Changes will be required at several of them, though Kenealy didn't know the exact number.
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