Outdoors

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

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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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.