Homeless Man Fined For Camping In Wyoming ForestJACKSON, Wyo. (AP) ― A self-described homeless man has been fined $50 in U.S. District Court for overstaying the number of days allowed while camping in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Raymond James was fined Thursday by Judge James Lubing.
"I feel my right to access the forest has been denied," James said at the trial, the Jackson Hole News And Guide reported. "It seems we've solved the problem of homelessness by making homelessness illegal."
Camping is limited to between two and five days at dispersed campsites around Jackson, a tourist area, following a 1995 special order intended to prevent people from living illegally in the forest.
Residents at the time complained that the forest wasn't safe because of the illegal campers, and tests found that fecal coliform counts in a creek emanating from the illegal camping areas exceeded water quality standards.
"It was not uncommon to observe 20 to 30 vehicles that were pretty clearly residents commuting into Jackson every day," Daniel Bauer, a former Bridger-Teton law enforcement officer, testified.
He said an estimated 200 people were living on the forest illegally at the time.
James argued that forest officials neglected to properly issue him a special-use permit for "botanical studies" for July that would have allowed him to stay past the camping limit.
But Dale Deiter of the Jackson Ranger District denied James' request for the permit because James didn't say why he needed to camp in the forest to conduct the studies.
James represented himself at the trial, wearing shorts, an empty leather knife sheath, and a Rage Against the Machine T-shirt with a picture of Argentine-born revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara.
James received two tickets, but Lubing threw out an Aug. 17 citation after James argued officers relied on hearsay to establish he camped on the site for three days starting Aug. 15.
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