Metolius River Forest Homeowners Association

A place for posting matters of importance to Cabin Owners and their visitors, along the Metolius River in Deschutes National Forest, Camp Sherman, Oregon

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Metolius River Basin & Destnation Resorts

It was brought to our attention that the Jefferson County Commissioners was rumored to be contemplating INCLUDING the two proposed sites in the Metolius River Basin in their mapping of destination resort designations in defiance of the recent 'ban' signed by the Governor of Oregon. No one really knew what this might mean.

NOW comes word that this will NOT happen, but rather the following statement has been issued:

"The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to remove the two contested Metolius Basin sites from the County's Destination Resort Eligibility Map. The Commission directed staff to prepare an ordinance for adoption that provides the Comprehensive Plan basis as well as the necessary zoning standards to regulate any future proposals however no map will be adopted identifying resort eligible sites. This action provides the framework for resort proposals outside of the Metolius Area of Critical State Concern to be reviewed for compliance with state and county requirements in the future. The first reading of the ordinance will be January 13, 2010."
John Skidmore, AICP Planning Director/CDD Manager, Jefferson County

This may finally slam the door on the issue, but can one ever really be sure?

Friday, December 4, 2009

LCDC Public Hearing Notes from 12/3

Last night's LCDC public hearing in Camp Sherman offered clarification on the proposed changes to the Area of Critical State Concern (ACSC) Management Plan. Three changes are proposed:
1. Implementing a process requirement for changing the management plan in the future.
2. Altering the clustering or row system for the limited development granted to the Ponderosa property east of Green Ridge and north of Black Butte.
3. Clarification of wording regarding average annual water consumption, meant to apply to all usage, which was accidentally ommitted in one area.

On January 21st in Salem, the LCDC will hold a full commission meeting to take action on the proposed changes to the ACSC.

The two (2) areas of land covered under the ACSC Management Plan offer varying degress of protection. The hydrologic area, Area 1, holds the highest degree of protection. Area 1 prohibits large scale development and places a limit on the number of homes (10) and limits the average annual water use, which corresponds directly to the number of dwellings. Area 2 protection is not as stringent, allowing 20 dwellings.

The Poderosa property straddles Areas 1 and 2, entailing approximately 320 acres of land. Small scale development is granted for this property. A hearing to map the 320 acres of Ponderosa land will be held in Camp Sherman Community Hall on December 9th at 6:00 PM.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Two Public Hearings Concerning the Metolius Basin

Hearing I
Department of Land Conservation & Development
Public Hearing on the Area of Critical State Concern

When: Thursday, December 3rd at 5:30 PM
Where: Camp Sherman Community Hall

The Metolius Protection Act, passed in June, requires the Department of Land Conservation & Development ro establish rules for managing the Area of Critical State Concern. The public hearing is the vessel to listen to public testimony regarding adopting and incorporating terms of the management plan.

Written statements may be submitted electronically to:

Hearing II
Do Destination Resorts Still Threaten the Metolius Basin?
Public Hearing on Destination Resort Mapping

When: Wednesday, December 9th at 6:00 PM
Where: Camp Sherman Community Hall

The Jefferson County Commission has intentions to finalize a map of land appropriate for destination resorts in the county. One may ask, "How is this possible?"

Jefferson county is expected to adopt changes in response to issues raised by the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) under the Oregon Supreme Court. Upon the June passing of The Metolius Protection Act, the state Supreme Court reverted the case to the Court of Appeals, which will revert the jurisdiction of the case to Jefferson County.

Oral and written comments will be accepted at the hearing. Written statements may also be sent to: Jefferson County Community Development Department. 85 SE D Street, Madras, Oregon 97741.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fees Moritorium and it's Impact on Oregon FS Cabin Owners

Quite a few will be asking 'What does the bill recently passed in Congress temporarily altering cabin fee increases, do for ME?'

This e-mail we received from the Oregon Forest Homeowners attempts to clear it up. Please read the excerpt below:
From: Sharon Karr []
Sent: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 9:32 AM

Subject: C2 Update for Oregon

To all,
Below is the latest information from C2 which may help answer some of the questions I am receiving about the impact of the new moratorium for Oregon permit holders. Although Oregon permit fees are not impacted by the moratorium, it is important that cabin owners understand this is a symbolic victory that included both Senator Wyden and Representative Walden as supporters.

Below Pete Bailey's message, I have copied in another email that describes the fee savings for Lake Owens, Wisconsin, provided by the moratorium. There are a number of cabin owners nationwide that are facing very high fees and the moratorium is a significant solution for the short term while C2 works toward a long-term fix to CUFFA.

Don't forget to check the NFH Blog and the OFHA website to obtain current information on C2 activities.


Sharon Karr
Begin forwarded message:

From: "Pete Bailey"
Date: November 6, 2009 9:18:16 AM PST
Subject: C2 Update 11.6.09

Greetings C2 State and Regional Coordinators,
Securing the support of Congress for the 2010 Cabin Fee Moratorium was a huge step forward in achieving our overall goal of permit fee reform. Our success was due to the efforts of individuals in every corner of the country. A gracious Thank You to all cabin owners who wrote, called or emailed their Legislators. You made a difference!

Though the moratorium does not fully address the most egregious situations, it does help considerably, but more importantly indicates that Congress recognizes that we have a serious problem that needs to be resolved. The initial Senate version held 2010 fees at the 2009 level, but created a $3.9M offset (reduction) in the Forest Service recreation budget. The House/ Senate conference version that was signed into law capped any potential increase at 25%, reducing the offset by about $1M. The hard budget times in DC clearly impacted our situation. The actual moratorium language follows for your interest.

SEC. 433. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, none of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used by the Secretary of Agriculture to increase a recreation residence user fee for calendar year 2010 by more than 25 percent of the recreation residence user fee applicable to the recreation residence for calendar 2009.

We are not resting with this initial success with Congress, but continue to push forward. Coalition 2 has developed 1) draft legislation language and 2) a summary of the intent of the draft legislation. We have tried to capture the principles and structure of the User Fee/Transfer Fee (UF/TF) idea as proposed. You have informed us that you agree with the UF/TF Proposal, in fact, 92.7% of all those responding to the Sales Data and Appraisal Survey, just completed, support replacing CUFFA with the UF/TF concept. Thanks for this clear affirmation of support. Congress and the Forest Service wanted to know what degree of support existed. Now we can answer their question.

Our Washington Representative, Aubrey King, now is tasked with ‘shopping’ the draft bill in Congress. We are seeking sponsorship for the draft legislation among several likely candidates. They will be approached in the next few weeks. We’ll keep you posted on the results.

Other challenges remain. Once the draft bill is submitted to Congress, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) will be asked to assess the revenue impact of the proposed legislation. We are preparing to defend our assertion that the Proposal is ‘revenue neutral’. This is a key issue if we expect to keep the fee tiers in the affordable range. We also expect negotiations with Congress and the Forest Service to include other issues, e.g., the final percentages and the exact tier assignments with their related fees. Leadership believes that the proposal, as written, fairly addresses these complicated issues. Be assured that leadership will remain fully engaged in this process. The hard work begins now.

Overall support has been great! But, we have not crossed the goal line. Your continued moral and financial support will be required going forward. I ask that you stay informed and engaged as much as your life demands allow.

Pete Bailey, C2 Legislative Contact chair

You have all heard me talk about Lake Owens, WI and how they are facing a similar situation as Lake Wenatchee. Here are their fee numbers. The 2009 fee is a one third phase in of their 98 appraisal. Without the moratorium, they would face another big jump in 2010 when their 2008 CUFFA appraisal ($320,000 or a $16,000 annual fee) gets phased in ($9062), 2011 ($12,531) and 2012 ($16,000). The 25% moratorium helps by reducing the 2010 obligation to ($6992), approximately a $2070 savings. These are approximate numbers, as I ignored the IPD-GDP inflator. But, you get the idea...


Sunday, October 4, 2009

Copy of NFH Letter on Cabin Fee Freeze

The Senate passed the Appropriations bill with an amendment that sets 2010 cabin fees at the 2009 fee level, that is no increase of any kind and no inflationary increase either for any cabin permit, regardless of where in the appraisal/fee cycle they are at or which appraisal cycle is being applied. This includes all cabin permittees. No cabin owners are excluded. Most have paid '09 fees based on their 90's appraisal value, which in many cases includes a 3 year phase in period. Others have paid '09 fees based on their more recent CUFFA appraisal value, which may also include a 3 year phase in period. This may be characterized, by some, as somehow unfair. But, given the complexity of cabin fee implementation across the Nation with many varied permutations, a simple freeze was determined by the Senate as most reasonable. No national database is kept that informs us of which cycle is being applied where, because it is administered locally, rather than regionally or nationally.

The process of moving this bill to final signing is important to understand, too. From an affirmative vote in the Senate, the bill goes to a House/Senate conference committee to work out any differences that may exist. When the committee is in agreement with all language and aspects of the bill, it is returned to both the Senate and House for a final vote. Language is often changed in this committee. It is here that concerns about the use of the term 'levied' will be addressed to be sure that the amendment says what Senator Tester intended as explained above. Contact with the appropriate Congressional staff has already occurred. There is no concern about who the amendment applies to or when. The date you receive your billing should not effect whether this moratorium applies to you or not. After an affirmative vote from both houses, the bill is sent to the President for his signature. We have been told, that because the Appropriations bill is so critical, this process should play out over the next week or so. But, while no major opposition is expected, it’s not done until it’s done.

Setting the moratorium based on 2008 fees was considered. But, the required offset was a much higher hurdle to get over. Let me explain. Because the moratorium eliminates any revenue increase, their is a shortfall based upon the revenue that would have been collected with no moratorium. That is the offset. The Congressional Budget Office determines this number. The offset for the moratorium, as passed by the Senate, is $3.9M. If fees were set back to the 2008 year, the offset would have been, at least, $9M to $10M. Senate passage of a moratorium with such a high offset was considered very unlikely. So the Tester amendment, using 2009 fees, was put forth. To say that the Senate rejected a moratorium based on 2008 fees mischaracterizes the process.

The source of those offset funds was another major concern and not a simple issue in the Senate or for the Forest Service. The $3.9M will come from the approximate $12M increase in the Forest Service Recreation budget. The FS will probably comment about this loss of Recreational funds. So you can see that the likelihood of a $9M+ offset gaining traction was quite miniscule.

This moratorium is meant to provide fee relief for only the next billing cycle (2010) while we pursue a legislative solution to replace the current faulty CUFFA fee determination process. So current appraisals will proceed under CUFFA. You need to remain fully engaged with that process, too. If second appraisals or appeals are in process, stay with them to their conclusion.

Most importantly, the moratorium brings credibility to our issue with members of Congress, the Forest Service, and others which hopefully translates into action to solve this issue once and for all. We are already working on the next steps to achieve legislative change. Congressional staffers in key offices are ready to work with us too.

We are encouraged with the progress. Stay engaged.

Pete Bailey
NFH Director & C2 Leg. Contact chair

URGENT Survey Request!

Fellow Cabin Owners

Some of you may have already received this request. We apologize for the repeat email. This note is a reprint from one sent by the National Forest Homeowners and forwarded to some by the Oregon Forest Homeowners. This information and other pertinent info can be found at the MRFHA Blog site online

There is a limited time for participation in the survey linked below. Please respond to the survey by October 15 if can.

Recent developments require that the NFH expand and improve their knowledge of Cabin Sales and Appraisals in cabin tracts across the country. First, alarming appraisal results continue to be reported from most Forests. Second, our new Fee Proposal, (available by clicking here for the Alternative Fee Model Proposal from the C2 Coalition ), has been introduced to cabin owners, Legislators and Forest Service personnel, as widely as possible. Questions are being asked that this new survey addresses head on. The results will help inform discussions with Congress about our Fee Proposal and the impact of CUFFA on National Forest cabins throughout the country.

YOUR HELP is urgently needed!
Please complete this new Survey today!

This is important! Your contribution to a national database is essential to the future of the Recreation Residence Program. Your answers will help us understand the national appraisal and cabin sales picture better.

The cabin isn't just about us. It is about generations before us and more importantly about the generations to follow, our kids and grandkids. What are you doing to ensure this legacy lives on?

Your contribution is critical.

Reach out to your fellow cabin neighbors. Encourage them and provide them a way to complete this vitally important survey. Print a copy for them to complete and mail in, or suggest they sit down with a family member and complete the survey online. Every Cabin Counts!!! Help us paint this picture!

Survey response deadline of October 15, 2009.
Remember one response per cabin, too.

NOTE: The survey is by Forest and NOT by tract so select OR-Deschutes as your location

By Internet:

Click here to take the survey online:

By Mail:

1. Obtain a print version of the survey: available at OR use the attached PDF File (same thing)
2. Complete it:
3. Mail it to: NFH Survey, c/o: Meredith Randall, 410 Powers Court Ave, Milton, GA, 30004

Please direct support questions to
One of our NFH survey specialists will get back to you shortly.

Copyright © 2009 , National Forest Homeowners
Contact Details
Mary Clarke Ver Hoef, NFH Executive Director
1-800-669-9971 / FAX: 916-359-5271

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

News Updates from the NFH On Cabin Fees

As a result of work by many including those who have contacted their legislators AND our Cabin Associations the Congress will consider a moratorium on the upcoming fee increases related to the most recent appraisals for a year or until such time as they have had a chance to review the issues related to amending/ changing the CUFFA rules. This is by no means certain and only notice by the Forest Service should be considered final, but its not bad news and gives cabin owners hope that their pleas will get a fair hearing.

In order that the Cabin Coalition 2/NFH is properly armed to carry our message to Congress they ask all cabin owners NATIONWIDE to complete a survey. Please follow the link if you are a cabin Permittee ...
NFH Cabin Survey

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

CUFFA Review Cabin Coalition 2 with OFHA & NFH Links

C2 has been extremely busy this summer working toward obtaining a hearing. No new news yet, but we remain hopeful. Important meetings are taking place in California and Oregon this week and next, with Senator Feinstein's staff and Senator Wyden's staff.

The following week, Sept. 23-25, a key group of C2 representatives will return to Washington D.C. to introduce the C2 fee model proposal to the Forest Service and key politicians.

In tandem, we are working on gaining political support for a moratorium to save cabins in peril this next season when high 2010 permit bills become due.

Click to see added recent newspaper articles to the OFHA web site

In these articles the distinction between a lease and a permit were made to the reporters. It seems the news can't quite distinguish between the two.

Calls and emails with your feedback on the C2 fee model proposal, participating in regional Think Tanks and providing support have all been appreciated. It is gratifying how many Oregon cabin owners are engaged and closely watching the C2 efforts, hoping for a resolution to the current CUFFA appraisal situation.

An update of the activities in Washington, D.C. should be emailed to us in late Sept.

Check out the NFH Blog as it contains the latest NFH information.

The Station Fire in southern California has consumed a number of cabins. A sad end to summer for those folks.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

VERY LATE NOTICE of IMPORTANT MEETING affecting Cabin Owners and Camp Sherman Property Owners!

This message is intended as notice for anyone checking this site that might be in Camp Sherman and have an interest in attending an important meeting scheduled by the Jefferson County Commissioners to hear what we guess is a description of some VERY IMPORTANT land use changes they wish to impose on property owners in the Metolius Basin.

We'd have posted this earlier had we known

The meeting is scheduled for 6PM tonight, Sept 2nd, at the Camp Sherman Community Hall.

You may check with the Camp Sherman Store to verify the time has not changed.

PS: After the fact it turns out the Commissioners intended this session as a 'meet and greet' during which they wished to get a flavor of what the Camp Sherman people would like to see in an implementing management plan, following the designation of the Metolius Basin as an "Area of Critical Concern".

More on this meeting in a subsequent article. Check back later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Clarification on Newsletter Article!

Recently we published the MRFHA August/Sept Newsletter and in it an article entitled "MRFHA Membership Unraveled". Unfortunately the article was NOT factual, misstating the conditions for membership in the Cabin Owners Association and who could vote. What the article SHOULD have said is...

Regular membership includes persons who meet the following conditions: they hold special use permits, or are cabin co-owners and/or are family members of permittees or co-owners . . . and . . . have paid all dues.

Associate members are those who have been designated as such by a majority vote of the board of directors and have paid the annual dues. (Currently there are none)

Other member classes may be determined by the board. (Currently there are none)

MRFHA Bylaws do not allow proxy voting. To have a vote a member must be present when a vote is called. Therefore, by way of an example, a family member, friend or cabin co-owner who is present at a meeting but NOT a member of the association may NOT vote when a vote has been called for.

Having said all this our practice regarding a these issues has always attempted to follow the intent of the by-laws.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Comming Events!

Several Events coming on the river that you won't want to miss include:

1. The pancake breakfast on Sunday the 6th, at th4e Camp Sherman Community Hall.
This year the event is sponsored by the Camp Sherman Historical Society. Hours are 8:00 AM to 11:30 AM.

2. The Camp Sherman Historical Society is sponsoring the showing of a Luther Metke video and an ice cream social on Saturday, August 15 at 6:45 PM at the Community Hall. A 27-minute documentary was produced several years ago about pioneer Camp Sherman log home builder Luther Metke. It was nominated for an Academy Award. The maker of the video will be there to talk about its production and relate stories of working with Luther. A small donation is requested.

Hope you can make one or both!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Eradication of Non-Native Plants

**Feedback Opportunity Ends August 10**

The Forest Service has developed a plan to control existing infestations of invasive plants. A Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) has been issued suggesting three (3) potential courses of action and disclosing the expected environmental consequences of the plan.

The three alternatives analyzed in this DSEIS are:

1. A No-Action Alternative.

2. The Proposed Action, prescribing a combination of herbicides with mechanical, manual, and cultural control methods.

3. An alternative designed in the same manner as the Proposed Action, with an emphasis on reducing the risk of herbicides entering the water.

Comments will be accepted by various means:

Electronically to  Electronic comments will only be accepted at this e-mail address, and may be part of the e-mail or in an attachment using only Microsoft Word, rich text format, or Adobe PDF.  The subject line must read, Invasive Plant Treatment Project.


Phone: 541-383-4769

Fax: 541-383-5531

Written comments may be mailed to:

Deschutes National Forest Headquarters

1001 SW Emkay Drive, Bend, OR 97702.


·Please identify the comment with the Invasive Plant Treatment Project.



For more information, please visit:

Or, contact Beth Peer at 541-383-4769.

Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity


Saturday, July 18, 2009

'Wood in the Stream'

The Forest Service Fish Biologist, Mike R. confirms the FS intention to place large logs & trees in the Upper River of the Metolius near Riverside Campgrounds this September...'before the Kokanee arrive to spawn'. This effort is part of the fish habitat restoration project in the hope of creating a stronger fishery and making the river more inviting for the return of native fish species long since absent. Much has already been done down stream as part of the project.

We plan to photograph it now in its present state and AFTER, in what the Forest Service calls 'it's more natural state'. We hope to publish those photos so all can judge. We expect they'll do a good job.

The upper river is magnificent in its view towards the headwaters with Black Butte in the distance. We can all hope the new view doesn't suffer.

So What's New With You?

So...what are YOU doing with your 'summer vacation', such as it is? And are you getting to the River anytime soon? We certainly HOPE so. It's been a marvelous summer so far.

And what's happened since we last wrote here? Oh, not much...unless you count:

1. Permits Reissued
2. Lot Appraisals done and new Permit fees set for 2011
3. CUFFA challenges accelerating, in an attempt to make the FAIRNESS part work
4. Metolius Basin protected by an act of (State) Congress as Governor signs law
5. More yard debris picked up (at your driveway) that EVER before at no new cost
6. Trees in Metolius for fish habitat program advances, working its way toward Tract C
7. MRFHA Annual meeting was held, and well attended considering it was on July 4th.
8. Forest Service struggles to adopt workable procedures for Trusts to hold Permits
9. Black Butte, North East Side, lightening fire burns over 550 acres, though only a modest threat to the Basin at any time
10. People return to the River to enjoy and recreate with families and friends

Ok, there was lots more that has happened, but that's a good thumb nail. Check here at this blog regularly to get breaking news updates of consequence to cabin owners on the Metolius.

If you need to know more about any issue listed here, or have a general question about the Metolius and the MRFHA Cabins contact us at

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

*** Danger Danger Will Robinson! ***

Some important news for viewers who raft the Metolius!

Please see the map showing the location of a log that is spanning the Metolius River adjacent to Candle Creek campground and a picture of access from the campground. The water is very swift in this section and the log is not visable until you are almost on top of it. In addition the log is easy to access from the campground side and might be considered an Attractive nuisance.

Michael Riehle, Fishery Biologist, Sisters Ranger District
PO Box 249, Sisters, OR 97759, email:
Phone (541)549-7702

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beware your New Permit Language!

The Oregon Forest Homeowners have alerted us and now we alert all of you...READ your new permit, and compare it to your old one ... See below the parsed e-mail message from OFHA; then and do the right thing to protect yourself.

"Hey, when did cabin ownership get so COMPLICATED?"
Answer: "It's a twenty year Permit Renewal thing!
> To all Oregon Tract boards,
> A couple of calls have come from tract representatives concerning the new phrases and terminology included in our new permits. As a reminder, OFHA and NFH recommend the following action concerning your new permit.
> 1. Compare your old permit to the new permit. Look for differences, errors and omissions. (For example, our cabin has suddenly gained an outhouse. It appeared on our compliance inspection last summer and I was instructed to tear it down and now it is on our new permit. It wasn't on our old permit nor on any inspection in the years prior to last year.) Now is the time to fix errors.

> 2. Read the permit information on the NFH web site: on the left side of the home page, below "News Flash", click on "Reserving Your Rights." The information from NFH is thorough and should be understood by each permit holder before signing and returning your permit. This information will help you protect your rights as a permit holder. The web site also addresses what to do if you have already signed and returned your permit and paid your permit fee.
> Sharon Karr
> OFHA C2 Rep.
> O: 541.549.8592

Monday, May 11, 2009

More on Cabin Coalition 2 - CUFFA Revisited

The National Forest Homeowners Association has on their website info about two possible ways of amending CUFFA to add the fairness in and get cabin fees under control. We recommend you visit that site, let the folks there know what you think and let us know too, while you're at it.

Either option would change the current appraisal model. You WANT to know this stuff.

Visit the site by clicking NFH

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Metolius and the Great Resort Ban Debate!

Many ask us for updates all the time on the efforts to ban new Destination Resorts in the Metolius Basin. We are including two links to Bend Bulletin articles on the subject for those interested; Note: these links will only be operable for as long as the Bend Bulletin chooses to maintain them:

Bend Bulletin Article 4-22-2008

Bend Bulletin Article 4-23-2008

Friday, April 10, 2009

Ok so we got Appraised....NOW what?

Getting asked quite a bit by permit holders in the MRFHA Tracts what we might recommend about the recent lot appraisals. If you could see me shrug my shoulders I suppose that isn't much help, huh?

Most of us don't really understand the whole fee appraisal process to begin with. When it's explained most of us can just feel our eyes glaze over after a minute or so and everything after that sounds a lot like 'Blah, blah...blah'.

The story out of the nutshell is that 6 lots were chosen by our association to represent the 108 cabins. Those 6 lots were appraised by a FS selected contractor as though they were for sale 'fee simple' lots
in the private world, WITHOUT improvements or buildings and with similar features/value as OUR lots would be as bare land; a value is estimated that a reasonable person in 'current' market conditions would pay to BUY the lot(s). Then 'appropriate' adjustments are made and a value is recommended to the FS. This appraised value establishes out BASE FEE (appraised lot value times 5%) beginning in 2011; that fee will be escalated each year after, most likely upward. your lot worth the appraised value? No? Yes? Maybe? It IS tough for the lay person to tell. But, YOU HAVE THE RIGHT to request in writing a full copy of your lot appraisal. Contact
Jeff Sims right away.

DO THIS TODAY The clock is running for you to get this document.

Only after you've read the appraisal and reviewed the comparable sales can you have a PRAYER to judge if you lot was appraised high or not. You have 60 days from the date of the announced appraisal results to let the FS know if you intend to contest the appraisal.

For a more thorough understanding of your rights reread your note that came with the announcement. We'll try to have a notice out here within another 20 days reviewing what folks can expect should they go the route of challenging the appraisal.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cabin Coalition 2 Update..and why you should care!

Folks who keep telling us that they can't BARE the changes coming in fees by 2011 sould be following and participating in the process known as Cabin Coalition 2.

Below is a link to the OFHA site with various sublinks to more information. Below the link is a verbatim article written by those who recently went to Washington DC to lobby on behalf of rethinking the cabin fee calculation methods to make them fair and affordable to more than just the very wealthy. Yes, all this is THAT important, so if you hold a cabin permit, even on another forest, read this stuff and follow your heart!

Important Cabin Coalition Link(s): OFHA

Letter/Update on Cabin Coalition efforts reprinted for our readers here:

"In an effort to keep you apprised, those of us who went wanted to let you know the trip to Washington DC this week on behalf of cabin owners nationwide was a success and to report a few key facts along with conclusions from the journey. We went with two goals in mind: first to drive home the point that CUFFA is irretrievably broken and fees are starting to cause some families to abandon their cabins over high fees and second to float our ideas about the final two solution sets that are being considered while listening for advice about how to proceed. Naturally we were attuned to any messages that might have suggested we were wasting our time or that cabin permit fees were not on anyone's radar screen, but we did not hear that feedback from anyone.

To begin, a brief description of the trip follows. There were six of us plus lobbyist Aubrey King: Geoff Anderson, President of NFH, Mary Clarke Ver Hoef, ED of NFH, Sharon Karr, Secretary of Oregon Forest Homeowners, Pete Bailey, NFH Board member and his wife Barb Bailey, co-president with Pete of the Quinault Cabin Association, and Dick Almy, C2 member and Lake Wenatchee Summer Home Association. This meant there were two from California, one from Oregon and three from Washington. We had meetings all day Monday, all day Tuesday and 1/2 day Wednesday. Dick could not be gone the full time, so he left late afternoon Tuesday to return home.

Monday opened with a breakfast meeting with former Under Secretary Mark Rey (he was the one who issued the administrative moratorium on fee increases for 2009 that was later reversed by the new Agriculture Secretary). Mr. Rey remains sympathetic and offered several thoughts about dealing with the Forest Service. This was followed immediately by a 2 hour meeting with the Forest Service, including Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief, Gloria Manning, Associate Deputy Chief and two others including a Legislative Affairs staffer. That meeting went about as expected, meaning we were received politely and our concerns were accepted mostly without comment or enthusiasm. We left having made only one visible impact on the attendees over the issue of the significant language changes to the permit that the FS seems to be totally unaware that permittees were not advised was pending. Our comments took the Forest Service aback because it was clear they did not know this feedback loop had not occurred. They promised to look into how and why that happened, but did not actually agree to revisit the changes even though that is exactly what we asked them to do. Otherwise the only other meaningful outcome was that we also tasked the Forest Service with determining if it would be possible for them to issue an administrative stay on implementing the fee increases for 2009 if a permittee were to file an appeal over the fee amount. Joel Holtrop agreed to have his people look into that possibility, but he was very clear that the Forest Service is of the opinion they have no choice but to implement CUFFA as they interpret it. This means that, even if it is possible to secure an administrative stay on the fee increase if there is an appeal of the fee, unless there is a change in the law, all other fee increases are going into effect. The Forest Service never made it clear when they plan to send the rest of the 2009 fee invoices out. Some parts of the country have received their invoice weeks ago. Therefore, we have no guidance about when others could receive their 2009 fee invoices.

In the afternoon of Monday we met with legislative staffers for a) Senior Majority Counsel (David Brooks) and Majority Counsel (Scott Miller) for Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee, b) Senator Jon Tester, MT (who has been very helpful thus far) c) Senator Maria Cantwell, WA (who has also been very helpful), d) Senator Jim Risch, ID (freshman, but we think inclined to help as his Legislative Assistant was very receptive, used to be on Senator Larry Craig's staff and so knows cabin issues very well) and e) Senator Ron Wyden, OR (Wyden remains a key figure for us because he is the Chair of the Public Lands and Forest Subcommittee and it is in this committee that Coalition 2 believes the first hearing would occur if we can get enough steam built to move forward on a change in the law). All these meetings went relatively well. We pushed for a hearing and in very general terms outlined the two key methods being discussed: first, the appraisal approach that would explicitly value all permit restrictions and limitations before applying a multiplier (call this modified CUFFA) and second, a non-appraisal method that would pair a fixed base fee of some kind with a transfer fee if and when a cabin is sold. We have more work to do on both of these concepts, but both were received with interest by the staff folks we spoke to.

Tuesday meetings included legislative staffers for a) Senator John Barrasso, WY (another significant supporter of cabin owners), b) Senator Diane Feinstein (who is at least as important to the future course of change as Senator Wyden; her staffers asked great questions and gave us some homework to do) c) Representative Jim Costa, CA (Chair of Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources; d) Representative Devin Nunes, CA, who is also a supporter of the program and who's Legislative Director knows about as much about our issues as any staffer we met and who said "just tell us what you want us to do and we will do it") e) Representative Mike Simpson, ID (his Legislative Director is also a major supporter and the Congressman himself is no fan of the USFS). The only actual member of Congress we met was Representative Norm Dicks who met with us for 15 intense minutes and who knows little about the program or the issues, but who concluded the meeting by standing and saying to his staffers in attendance, "Lets see if we can help these people". The final Tuesday meeting was with Frank Gladics, (Minority Professional Staff Member, Senate Public Lands and Forest Subcommittee - Note: this is the same subcommittee as David Brooks and Scott Miller are counsel too for the Democrats).

Wednesday included meetings with staffers for a) Representative Tom McClintock, CA who made a welcome personal appearance half way through our meeting (Member of House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands), b) Doc Hastings, WA (Ranking Minority member of House Natural Resources Committee) and c) Senator Lamar Alexander, TN (Ranking Minority member, Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee; note - there are cabins in Tennessee and some of the permittees are really getting engaged with issues for the first time so Alexander may prove to be important too). The group also dropped by unannounced to see Misty McGowan, of Senator Crapo's staff, ID on Wednesday. We were received warmly and assured that Senator Crapo is also on board.

As you can see this was a full agenda and we made the rounds as efficiently and with as much energy as we could muster. All of us honed the ability to provide the 30-second sound bite to make certain points or to transmit important information and we believe that we reinforced the support that already existed for cabins and expanded it somewhat too. We were taken seriously (or at appeared to be!) by everyone even as Congress is being overwhelmed by economic issues. Having said that, we were told in no uncertain terms that we still have a LOT of work to do and that the legislative fix will take time and a favorable outcome is not certain. Still we were encouraged to keep working towards a hearing (first in the Senate - in Wyden's Public Lands and Forest Subcommittee - and then probably in the House). We were advised to keep both sides of the aisle involved and to work parallel between both houses of Congress lest we find irreconcilable differences at the end that become a problem. The central tendency for timing seems to be a Senate hearing late May or this summer, followed by the House later in the summer, with draft legislation being drafted into the summer and fall once there is clarity over our desire to push either the appraisal-based methodology or the non-appraisal method or some hybrid. More trips to Washington DC will be required.

Conclusions we have reached:
1. We need to resolve our final strategy with respect to which fee-setting approach to push hardest and to develop a timeline for all that has to happen, chose participants for hearings and arm them with data and statements, to create new legislation and manage that through Aubrey King.

2. NFH/Coalition 2 Washington Representative (aka Lobbyist) person Aubrey King is more important than ever to the success of our endeavors.

3. Remaining work is substantial and will eat-up the rest of 2009, it will likely be 2010 before we can legislative relief if it happens at all.

4. It is critical we stay in touch with Congressional staffers and keep them up to date on our thinking and our activities.

5. If we are to get a legislative fix, it will be because the DEMOCRATS want it to happen (notably Wyden and Feinstein). We heard repeatedly that the minority Republicans believe they have pushed as hard as they can already.

6. We will not have the FS on our side as we pursue a legislative fix. The best we can hope for is that they are not active opponents.

7. The results of the Economic Impact Study will be critical to our success (we discussed preliminary results in every meeting and, without exception, staffers were interested and tuned-in).

8. Near term help on 2009 fees will not be forthcoming from Congress.

9. Our only remaining hope for deferring the implementation of 2009 CUFFA-mandated fees is the slim reed of asking the FS for an administrative stay for those permittees who appeal the new fees on the grounds of inability to pay. There is no assurance they will provide such a stay, but the FS did seem interested in at least determining if they thought they could legally do it.

10. We need to continue to raise money for legal fees, trips to Congress and to pay costs of Coalition 2.

By comparison this trip was more productive than a similar trip in 2002. We had more and better meetings this time and our message was more complete and focused. If you read this report and are depressed by its tone and all the cautions included, also know that we came home more optimistic than when we left. The group really does believe there is enough interest in our plight and a genuine interest in keeping the Recreation Residence Program going because of all the good it does, that if we remain persistent and united we can reach the holy grail of a permanent fix to fee-setting that will allow the vast majority of families to retain their cabins. We have a lot of work to do, but we think it can be done.

Finally, as we stay "top of mind" by writing letters and e-mails to Congress, please ask for a hearing followed by legislation. Our suggestion is to work a few family-oriented themes into your e-mails too. We did not tell 107-year old Gretchen Minard's Lake Wenatchee family story to everyone we met, but when we did her longevity and risk of cabin loss attracted immediate interest and concern. Also know that FS Chief Gail Kimball has a personal hot-button: "reconnecting kids to the natural world" by getting youth into the forests. If you have anecdotes that prove your cabin is a tool to kindle this reconnection, write them and send this information on to your Senators and Congressmen.

Hopefully if you are still reading you have a better appreciation of what we tried to achieve by going to Washington DC and how we did moving toward those goals. Stay-tuned, each of you will remain important to the cause at the appropriate time.


Dick Almy, Geoff Anderson, Pete & Barb Bailey, Mary Clarke Ver Hoef and Sharon Karr"

MRFHA - Camp Sherman

MRFHA - Camp Sherman
Metolius River