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Landowner Jailed for Easement Violation

June 15, 2011 | Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Attorney’s office obtained a preliminary injunction against a Washington State man who was also briefly jailed and fined last year for violating a state court order that he stop offering zip line rides in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

The US Attorney wants Derek Hoyte to pay damages for building six zip lines without permits and in violation of a conservation easement on 80 acres he owns. Hoyte was fined $1,000 and jailed for five days for violating a prior order from the county to stop operating public zip line tours. He was released after he paid to remove the lines.

Then, Hoyte reinstalled zip lines on the property and is constructing a suspension bridge without permission. The Forest Service says Hoyte has built roads and cut trees on the 80-acre parcel he owns in violation of a conservation easement the Forest Service obtained from prior owners. Prosecutors demanded that Hoyte pay for damage to the land and pay triple damages for trees he cut. The injunction prohibits Hoyte from running any zip line tours, building roads, cutting vegetation and continuing work on the suspension bridge.

Hoyte also owns 5 acres just outside Washougal city limits. Hoyte installed the lines on his family farm last year and began operating Heritage Farms Canopy Tours.  Pre-trial activities are just beginning and no trial date is set. The parties are discussing a settlement but have not reached any agreement.

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