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11/26/2013 10:43:00 AM
Arizona officials: Forest Service regulation on trailers unfair to hunters, anglers
The Arizona Game and Fish Department contends that a U.S. Forest Service regulation applying to trailers in northern Arizona national forests is unfair to hunters.Photo/Arizona Game and Fish Department
The Arizona Game and Fish Department contends that a U.S. Forest Service regulation applying to trailers in northern Arizona national forests is unfair to hunters.

Photo/Arizona Game and Fish Department
Elisa Cordova
Cronkite News

Arizona officials are slamming the U.S. Forest Service over a regulation making trailers subject to impoundment or citation if left unattended for more than 72 hours in northern Arizona national forests.

Calling the move unprecedented, the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department contend that the regulation hurts hunters, anglers and other recreational users.

"This has been real disruptive to hunters and citizens who are trying to obey the law," said Jim Paxon, chief of information for Game and Fish.

A Coconino National Forest news release dated Aug. 16 and titled "Parking trailers in forests prohibited during hunting season" said that many hunters have parked trailers in forests to reserve locations for the season and to avoid hauling them back and forth.

"If trailers are left unattended for more than 72 hours, the Forest Service considers them abandoned property and may remove them from the forest," the release said. "Violators can also be cited for this action."

The release said the regulation applies to all national forests in northern Arizona.

Paxon said state officials learned that regulation doesn't apply in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Tonto and Coronado national forests. There, he said, trailers can park for 14 days, as has been the rule for decades.

Paxon said the commission and the Coconino and Yavapai county sheriff's offices have tried several times without success to get the Forest Service to rescind the regulation.

Asked whether his agency has heard of hunters receiving citations or having trailers towed, Paxon said that was a question for the Forest Service.

Larry Voyles, director of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Department, sent a letter Sept. 13 to Earl Stewart, supervisor of the Coconino National Forest, questioning why the regulation only applies to some of Arizona's national forests. He requested that the agency return to a policy limiting trailers to 14 days.

"Creating an enforcement philosophy that applies to half the forests in Arizona creates a level of confusion among our customers," Voyles said.

Noting that most of his agency's revenue for wildlife conservation comes from licenses and permits, Voyles said the regulation risks alienating hunters and anglers.

"A situation where a person may be cited, or have their equipment impounded, creates a scenario where a hunter may simply choose not to spend the money and time to participate," Voyles said.

The Coconino National Forest's public affairs office directed a reporter to Cathie Schmidlin, a regional spokeswoman for the Forest Service who emailed a statement saying that the agency's law enforcement officers make "every effort" to contact hunters before taking action.

"They know that hunters often leave before sunrise and return after dark," the statement said. "They have the discretion to address potential action on a case-by-case basis. Officers will leave a red tag with time and date in an inconspicuous place with the officer's name and phone number and request that they be contacted to confirm the property is not abandoned."

The statement said the regulation is in line with a state law stating that a vehicle left more than 72 hours with no indication to the contrary may be considered abandoned.

Steve Clark, executive director of the Arizona Elk Society, said he thinks northern Arizona forests were targeted because they have the most and largest hunting camps. He said he's heard about friends receiving warnings and having trailers impounded in the Kaibab National Forest this year.

"I firmly believe that this is discrimination against the hunting community," Clark said.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2013
Article comment by: Thomas Tereszkiewicz

It seems a reasonable precaution to prevent the public's national forests from being pock marked with abandoned vehicles. People d a lot of dumping on our public highways and lands and the forest service has a right and a responsibility to try to prevent this from happening. It also seems that the agency goes out of their way to contact the owners before citation. I sure wish they did that in California.

Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Article comment by: Robert Blas

What the heck are you talking about Blasi? This is my name and this is what I think.

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Article comment by: Sheila Kahle

The Forest Service has retracted their discriminatory policy.
Date: December 06, 2013

I regret the confusion and concern from the hunting community in Arizona caused by this
miscommunication to the public.

Forest visitors camping and engaged in hunting or other recreational activities are not at risk of being cited or having their property considered abandoned after 72 hours. Current Forest Service regulation allows for a Forest user to camp and occupy a site up to 14 days in a
30-day period, and that policy will not change. No abandonment procedures will commence until a
site has been occupied for 14 days in a 30-day period, even if the site is left unattended for 72 hours or more within the 14-day timeframe.

I want to assure you that the Forest Service is not implementing any new rules or policies for
abandoned property on Federal lands. The Agency has the authority, in our Federal regulations, to remove abandoned property. On rare occasions, when necessary, our Law
Enforcement Officers use this authority primarily to protect the public from hazards and to
keep the Forest from becoming a dumping ground for unwanted property.

Law Enforcement and Investigations

Posted: Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Blasi

Very distasteful and cowardly to use that name Robert Blas! But then again, I would expect nothing less from local vermin.

Posted: Thursday, December 5, 2013
Article comment by: Robert Blas

Just leave the trailers in the forest and let the Forest Service burn them to the ground during their next controlled burn.

Posted: Saturday, November 30, 2013
Article comment by: Liam Beam

It good that the U.S. Forest Service is finally doing something about the trailers left in the forest. They're unsightly. It's just plain logical that they be removed. The hunters just leave them there and they just rot. Looks like a junk yard.

Posted: Thursday, November 28, 2013
Article comment by: Dennis Johns

Another example of the stupidity coming out of Washington.

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