Forest Service Outfitter Successfully Appeals Suspension

Your Government counsel.™

An outfitter with a US Forest Service permit successfully appealed a decision to suspend his permit for one year and place a personal ban on he and his guide from outfitting on the Santa Fe National Forest.  The outfitter argued that the Forest Supervisor should have imposed corrective action rather than a suspension.  The Appeal Deciding Officer agreed, lifted the suspension imposed by the Forest Supervisor and required the outfitter to attend anger management courses designed to reduce the chances of future incidents.

The events leading to the suspension included an interaction between the outfitter and another driver where the other driver attempted to prevent the outfitter’s group from passing his vehicle.  The outfitter and driver exchanged words and the outfitter hit the other driver’s mirror.  The Forest Service was not aware of the incident at the time.

Nearly a year later, the outfitter was involved in an incident with state wildlife officers.  The state officers arrested the outfitter’s guide and clients for having stopped to look at elk in their vehicle’s headlights alongside a curve in the highway at night as they returned from a hunt.  The wildlife officers had placed decoys out in the field and were monitoring traffic.  After the guide and clients took several pictures, never leaving the vehicle, and left, they were later pulled over and arrested for shining a light on wildlife with weapons in their vehicle.  The outfitter was behind them and left his vehicle to video what he felt was an improper detention and arrest.   The outfitter used profanity and aggressive language with the officers, but never engaged in any physical contact.  The guide and clients were immediately released when the wildlife officers’ superior reviewed the basis for their arrests.

The Forest Supervisor was subsequently informed of both incidents.  She then issued a notice of intent to suspend the outfitter’s permit due to him allegedly threatening the safety of others in violation of the permit’s terms.  The outfitter offered to take anger management courses, but the Forest Supervisor rejected his offer, effectively finding that no corrective action was appropriate to cure the alleged noncompliance given his conduct towards the state wildlife officers.  The Appeal Deciding Officer disagreed, and held that the corrective action would help with the root cause of the incidents.  She then reversed the suspension decision and required the corrective action to be completed.

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