Sequim woman to contest trespassing ticket for being in closed Olympic National Park

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

TACOMA –– Leanne Potts of Sequim is due in federal court this morning to contest the $125 trespassing ticket she received for hiking in Olympic National Park during October's shutdown of the U.S. government.

Potts was one of three drivers ticketed in the Barnes Point parking lot by Park Ranger Jennifer Jackson for “Violation of Closure (Government Shutdown)” when she parked in the lot.

She is the only one challenging the infraction.

“I think my chances are pretty good at having this dismissed, considering the circumstances,” Potts said.

“I'm hopeful this will make a statement that it wasn't right.”

Potts' appeal is slated to be heard in the federal courthouse at 1717 Pacific Ave. in Tacoma.

National parks and monuments were closed along with other government agencies from Oct. 1-17 after Congress failed to agree on a deal to continue funding the government.

Those who were ticketed reportedly drove past orange cones and a sandwich board with a sign stuck to it with duct tape reading, “Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service facility is closed.”

PA teacher ticketed

In addition to Potts, a ticket was written to Kelly Sanders, a Port Angeles sixth-grade teacher taking a group of international students for a hike to Marymere Falls in the park.

Sanders said she wanted to appeal the ticket but that the appeal process would have required multiple trips to Tacoma and days off work.

“I weighed all the various factors and costs, and just decided it wasn't going to be worth it,” Sanders said.

“I'm jealous of Leanne. I would have loved to have had my day in court.”

Sanders said she used the ticket as a civics lesson for her students, teaching them consequences of breaking laws “even if you don't know it's a law.”

The third ticket was written to a driver who has not been identified.

Park officials reported that five tickets were issued during the 16-day government shutdown: the three at Barnes Point and two written to a pair of bicyclists in the Quinault area.

Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict and Port Angeles Police Chief Terry Gallagher separately wrote letters to urge Jenny Durkan, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, to dismiss the citations.

Durkan denied their requests. She said those ticketed drove past signs and cones that declared the park closed.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 07. 2014 7:03PM
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