James Reich of Sedona Hiking Adventures Sentenced to Jail and Probation for Illegal Guide Service

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Image: www.sedonahikingadventures.com
James Reich, owner of Sedona Hiking Adventures, has been sentenced to two days in jail for running an illegal guide service on national forest lands.

A Sedona-based hiking guide has been sentenced to two days in jail and is banned from national forests for six months after getting caught running a tour service on federal lands without a permit.

James Reich of Sedona Hiking Adventures is also prohibited from working as a guide in national forests for the duration of his 18-month probation, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

Reich's Web site states that he guides folks to numerous locales in northern Arizona for $35 an hour, per person. He founded the company in 2004 due to a love for the outdoors.

But according to an announcement by the U.S. Justice Department, Reich was busted in 2009 and pleaded guilty to failing to obtain the proper permits for his service. At the time, he promised to stop offering the tours until he received approval.

In May, a U.S. Forest Service ranger spotted him running an illegal tour on national forest land and cited him. He was also cited for letting his dog run around without a leash.

It's kind of sad to see a hard-working entrepreneur like Reich actually thrown in jail for doing little more than going for a lark in the wild with some cash-paying flat-landers. But the Forest Service maintains that regulations requiring permits for services like Reich's are needed to "protect natural resources from being damaged by an overabundance of outfitter guides."

For sure, if you want to see evidence of too many guide services, there's no better example than Arizona's southern borderlands.


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13 comments
Jim Reich
Jim Reich

I am Jim Reich, and as my ban from EVERY national forest in the state of Arizona is approaching it end in 28 days (and counting).

 I feel compelled to add that although the forest service is holding me accountable to have an "outfitter guide permit", what they fail to mention is that said permit does not exist. On paper it may exist, but in reality, the Red Rock Ranger district has been doing an Environmental Impact Study since 2005 and isn't expected to complete this study till 2013 - 8 years later! That what you call efficiency in our government. 

Hundred of paperwork against me, most testimonials from happy clients. I am someone who truly loves what I do. I hug the trees and kiss the red rocks and am respective to our Mother Earth. I share my beliefs with my clients as you can see from my reviews on my website, Trip Advisor, Yelp. I leave no trace and tread lightly when on the sacred land.

Unfortunately, the local forest service thinks that they OWN the forest, when in reality it is you and I who owns it, for it is public land. I have had various confrontations with the forest service since starting my business and they think because they have a gun and badge, that they can do whatever they wish and bully the little guy. Meanwhile, large tour operators in Sedona are able to hold on to hiking permits which they don't use, but the forest service allows them to keep these permits even though guides such as myself would do anything for the opportunity to be able to share my love of the land legally with visitors to Sedona.

On a different note, the same judge that sentenced me told the forest service to stop selling the Red Rock Pass which they earn an estimated $1,000,000 annually from unless they made certain improvements (1-designated parking, 2-bathrooms, 3-picnic tables, 4-trash cans, 5-interpretive maps, 6-security) and that these improvements must exist in their entirety before they may charge the public for a Red Rock Pass. Do you want to know what Red Rock Ranger District did? They continued to charge for the pass, ignoring the judge's ruling. Yet, it is I am who is the bad guy sharing my love of the land with tourists, while being held accountable for a permit that does not exist MEANWHILE the Red Rock Ranger District has it's gun-ho law enforcement officers ticketing visitors and collecting for a pass that they were told to cease and desist selling - and in the end I am the one made out to be the bad guy.

There are literally over a dozen guide companies in Sedona wanting to get this ever so illusive permit. From my experience in talking to other permitted guides, Red Rock Ranger is the most difficult to deal with, making the process to get a permit nearly impossible, while they harass the public for trying to recreate and enjoy public lands; the very land that they themselves are supposed to be stewards of, but act more like a Nazi Gestapo in their interactions with the public and community guides. 

Motorola Arizona
Motorola Arizona

Yep Pink Jeep Tours and its so-called "subsidiaries" has a stranglehold on permits at the Red Rock Forest District. Myself and 6 other guiding companies have been put on hold for years by these jerks. New Times needs to do an investigative story on both Pink Jeep and the Red Rock Forest District - someone is getting paid under the table!

Paleopoints
Paleopoints

So many "shamans", "seers", "faux indians", "crystal healers", and "guides" in Sedona.  Anyone of them willing to show you the way to "spirituality" and "inner peace"......all for the right price!!!  Most of these wackos claim some affiliation to some tribe or another or have some outlandish story about how they had a vision or were taught the old ways by an elder.  When you dig a little deeper into their history and their claims you will find that 99%  of them are full of crap!  Unfortunately there are alot of people ready to eat up their drivel and fork over their money to these scam artist.  Abide by the laws and you won't have any problems.  Can't get a permit in the red rock district, go somewhere else.  All the jeep companies are scratching the forest services back...it's about money, not the environment.  This guy is just one of the many so called "guides" in Sedona who skirt the system in order to line their pockets with what is truly important to them...........MONEY!!!!

Chris
Chris

Why doesnt anybody talk to Pink Jeep about the permitting process? Because it seems like they found a way to send thousands of Jeeps up to Broken Arrow without causing any concern of environmental damage in the Forest Services opinion... well done Shawn, guess your Jeeps are just as green as the Hummers...   

Steve
Steve

This is a really good story. It's too bad no one has the time to do an in depth article. This guy has tried to get a permit for years. I personally know 2 other guides who are permitted. Problem is they don't have 'Hiking' permits from the forest service. No one can get them til 2014 or so. One guy has a 'Metaphysical' permit which allows him to take people out on the trails and he doesn't get hassled. He's waited 10 months to get a laminated card from the forest service which is the permit. He was recently told it'll be until January until he can get the permit. Just getting the permit is only part of the problem. The forest service puts ridiculous caveats into the permit that no human being could live up to.  Funny thing is I don't think the forest service wants people to use the land (we have to pay to hike in Sedona by purchasing a Red Rock Pass). These guys are top notch guides they go all over the world. They know what they're doing. They really teach their clients how to be responsible while on the land in more ways than one. 

This is more than just foot dragging and avoiding paperwork. It just doesn't make any sense. They didn't drag their feet when the fees went into effect and machines that collect money needed to be installed. There is something really strange going on up here. No one is sure why it's going to take years to get a hiking permit. It's absolutely ridiculous, another catch 22 situation. I can put you in touch with people if you want to do the story. I'm sure it's a good one.

Mountain Musician
Mountain Musician

It would be good to look into whether Reich applied for permits, how the Forest Service has responded, and the high costs and many hoops tour operators are officially required to jump through to get those permits. I don't know anything about Reich's case, but I know of one applicant who has experienced unreasonable foot-dragging by the FS indicating it would prefer to avoid dealing with the paperwork and oversight.

Walter Concrete
Walter Concrete

Ray, this hard hitting, insightful investigation into the rampant disregard for the forestry services need to collect taxes will surelybe the one to at least get you nominated for the Pulitzer prize.

Keep it up, Ray.    You are the man in this town.

Jim Reich
Jim Reich

When I first inquired about a permit in 2004, I was told by the forest service that no one comes to Sedona to go hiking and according to their fancy foam boards, all the visitors came here to go on jeep tours, I guess P--- Jeep must have paid for that study. Then in 2005, I asked again, and that when I was told about their NEPA (environmental impact) study. Each year asking again, I was told to wait to the following year. Meanwhile, they allow jeeps and ATV's to destroy the terrain and I simply wish to take small groups on private hiking tours. It is amazing to me that a environmental impact evaluation can take 8 years, but that is a prime example of corruption, bureaucracy, and how a $20 million tour company can manipulate things to work in their favor and keep smaller tour operators out of the market place. 

sasnigiel
sasnigiel

@redrockscams  please, just get your permit. Be legal. Tours from unpermitted guides should be stopped. In my profession, I have to be licensed to practice professionally. It costs money. The money goes to a good cause. You are unprofessional!

redrockscams
redrockscams

I assure you the FS in Sedona is corrupt.  I have spent seven years for my permit, original estimate 2008, now we went backwords, no end in sight.  Illegal guides have flooded Sedona, as no qualified insured guides can get permits.....regardless of desired activity or qualifications.  If you try to apply for a stargazing tour and are an astronomer, you would not get one.  Amendment 12 of the forest plan actually conflicted with Federal Law itself, including phrasing that requires the Forest Service to outrightly reject all small business proposals.  They have since altered the wording to "review when time allows," but to be honest, the Red Rock permit is non-exisistent.  People should not have to go somewhere else, their proposals should be reviewed for potential stewardship interests for the land and the people.  If that benefit is there, sans impacts, and needs determination and capacity analysis is met, then you should NOT have to go somewhere else.  Instead the USFS SHOULD do its job, a soultion that can provide education and job opportunity in a recession.

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