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News / Clark County News

Feds sue Washougal man over construction in Gorge

Derek Hoyte was jailed briefly over zip lines last year

The Columbian
Published: December 22, 2010, 12:00am

TACOMA (AP) — A Washougal man who was 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 is now in trouble with the federal government.

The U.S. attorney’s office sued Derek Hoyte this week in federal court in Tacoma, saying the U.S. Forest Service recently confirmed reports that Hoyte has 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 an 80-acre parcel he owns near Washougal in violation of a conservation easement the government obtained from the previous owners of the property. Prosecutors are seeking a restraining order and asking that Hoyte be forced to compensate the government for damage to the land and pay triple damages for any lumber he cut.

A federal judge set a hearing on the temporary restraining order request for today.

Hoyte also owns 5 acres just outside Washougal city limits. Hoyte installed the lines on that family farm last year and began operating Heritage Farms Canopy Tours.

Last month, the Clark County hearings examiner ordered Hoyte remove the lines, which he installed and operated without any permits, or obtain a conditional use permit. At the time, Hoyte said he had removed the lines and had no plans of reinstalling them on the Clark County property.

Marissa Harshman of The Columbian contributed to this story.