Published On: Wed, Oct 9th, 2013

John Bell, the latest runner to get fined for jogging at Valley Forge during government shutdown

A Pennsylvania man has made headlines for his run through Valley Forge because when he returned he was greeted by two park rangers and slapped with a $100 fine.

Scenic overlooks closing were just the beginning. Now joggers are being ticket for being near the parks during the government shutdown

Scenic overlooks closing were just the beginning. Now joggers are being ticket for being near the parks during the government shutdown

“I just went for a run like I always do,” said John Bell, age 56, a real estate broker who has run 100 marathons in his life, raising more than $100,000 for charity. “I’m a marathon runner. I’ve been going down to Valley Forge for probably 25 years. I had no idea the park was even closed.”

Bell said he drove to the park Sunday morning and noticed that internal park roads were barricaded, much like they are at night after the park closes, so instead he drove to a remote parking lot off of state Route 23.

He proceeded to run about five miles through the 3,500-acre park and returned to find a pair of park rangers in the parking lot.

“When I came back my car was surrounded by two ranger vehicles with their lights flashing,” Bell said. “I felt like I was a terrorist.”

Bell said the rangers asked him if he “watched the news” and told him the park was closed because the government is shut down. Bell said they had already placed a $100 ticket on his car.

“I’ve got to go to federal court if I want to fight this thing,” he said.

Bell’s attorney, Jeremy Ibrahim, said that the fine was for violating a federal regulation regarding use restrictions on public lands. The violation carried a $75 fine and $25 in processing fees. He said he thinks the ticket is outrageous.

“As a lawyer, I can say that while the government in Washington is shut down, due process and the Constitution are not,” said Ibrahim, who is representing Bell pro bono. “That park is a national treasure.”

Bell is hardly alone. The Park Service has issued over 20 tickets at Valley Forge since the shutdown began.




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About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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  1. Team Cross Runs » Trails Closed But Congress Serious About Fitness – For Selves says:

    […] On my run back to the car I didn’t see any signs along the way indicating the trail’s closure and I didn’t when I popped out at the Hopkins Cir/Hopkins Place trail head either.  It isn’t super clear when you leave the State Park and enter the Wildlife Refuge.   So fortunately no ranger was waiting to give me a ticket like happened to John Bell. […]

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