No Net Loss of Cabins
Issue: Failure to rebuild cabins lost to natural disasters and the termination of permits and removal of cabins by the Forest Service for noncompliance have removed over 50 cabins from the Recreation Residence Program since 2002, bringing the total permitted cabins in this program to approximately 14,600. The steady shrinking of this program diminishes its contribution to recreation on National Forest System lands and, if this trend were to continue, could marginalize the value of maintaining this program at a time when accessible, family-oriented recreation programs are most needed by a growing, urban population.
Discussion: At its peak in the late 1960’s, the Recreation Residence Program included a total of approximately 20,000 permitted cabins. Since that time, about 5,400 cabins – or 27% of the total – have been removed from the program. These 5,400 permits have left the program for a number of reasons: transfer to private ownership through land exchanges, transfer to National Park Service management with conversion of National Forest System lands to National Parks, termination by the Forest Service in order to use lands for other purposes, termination for noncompliance and nonpayment of fees, and destruction by natural causes followed by a failure of the permit holder to rebuild.
The Recreation Residence Program is one of the oldest of the recreation programs on National Forest lands and accounts for a major portion of recreation-use-days each year. The program does require, however, a moderate level of administrative oversight by the Forest Service, which is balanced in the eyes of the cabin community by the annual special use fees paid by each holder.
Our concern is that, should the downward trend in numbers of permits continue at the rate of the past 35 years, the Recreation Residence Program could shrink to a size at which it no longer constitutes a significant element of the recreation experience on National Forest System lands and may not justify the continued investment of limited administrative resources by the Forest Service.
NFH Position Statement: No Net Loss of Cabins
In the interest of maintaining the Recreation Residence program as a significant element of recreation on National Forest lands, the National Forest Homeowners organization is concerned about the loss of any permits from the program for any reason. We believe that the destruction or loss of permitted cabins whether by natural disaster, termination for cause or land exchange should be offset by the issuance of new permits so as to maintain the contribution and benefit of this program to recreation on National Forest System lands.