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Camping by the public on our lots
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9/4/2019 at 11:00:21 PM GMT
Posts: 2
Camping by the public on our lots
Happy Fall 2019 everyone We have been informed by the FS and it has been confirmed by NFH that the public is allowed to camp and park on our lots. We have experienced a massive influx of the public at Wrights Lake, Ca where our cabins are located since the FS turned over the area to a concessionaire. Now we have out of control public parking, parking off the road, wherever ther is space. The sheer volume of people has increased exponentially. The FS has abandoned their responsibility and the concessionaire has said that it is not their responsibility either. People have not hesitated to park in our driveway and gone to take a walk. Now that we have been made aware that the public has the right to move onto our lots and camp, I feel that it is imperative that the NFH help all of us navigate our relationship with the FS and potentially change regulations with respect to our non exclusive land use. If someone camps on my lot, where do their wastes go? What if they have a campfire? What if they bring animals? How many campers are allowedn my lot? Where do these questions end? When the FS managed the area, they also managed the overall number of people who came into the Wrights Lake area. Now you can barely find the shoreline on the lower lake every weekend. I never ever thought that the public camping on my lot would ever be a possibility. But now it is just inevitable for us and probably, given time, inevitable for you. Thanks you in advance for all your good thoughts, ideas and action items. Jane Primrose Wrights Lake Lot 27 Permitee Past President WLSHA 530-615-4348

Last edited Sunday, September 8, 2019
9/9/2019 at 12:32:45 AM GMT
Posts: 103


While our permit does state the permitted land use is not an exclusive use, it's not as wide open as most fear.  Let's start with the specific language of the "Non-exclusive use" clause of our permits:

"The use and occupancy authorized by this permit are not exclusive. The Forest Service reserves the right of access to the permit area, including a continuing right of physical entry to the permit area for inspection, monitoring, or any other purpose consistent with any right or obligation of the United States under any law or regulation. The Forest Service reserves the right to allow others to use the permit area in any way that is not inconsistent with the holder's rights and privileges under this permit, after consultation with all parties involved."

In other words, the public's right to access your lot is allowed as long as their use does not impair your authorized use per the terms of your permit.  There are also other USFS regulations or practices that help to protect the cabin owner's use.  In addition to developed camp grounds, the USFS allows dispersed camping on a Forest, but not near developed recreation sites.  In most Forests, dispersed camping is only allowed if more than a certain distance away (varies by forest, but a range of 1/4 to 1 mile away).

We interpret this to mean the public is not allowed to camp on your lot.  Also, many Forests allow cabin owners to park only in "designated" parking spaces on your lot, and in some cases, limit the number of parking spaces.  We believe this same limitation would extend to the general public. I'm suggesting the general public is not allowed to park anywhere they want on your lot, nor are they allowed to park in a designated parking space if it interferes with your parking privileges.  In theory, they could park in your driveway when you weren't using it, but not if it prevents you from parking there.  I suggest meeting with your District Ranger to discuss your concerns and seek their advice on how to regulate non-authorized use of the lot. As a general rule, the public has the right to walk across your lot, but most other activities are limited. The USFS frowns upon No Trespassing type signs, but they may allow cabin owners to put up more appropriate signs (no parking? or authorized parking only?) and/or take certain other actions to prevent camping or parking on your lots.

Last edited Sunday, November 24, 2019
9/9/2019 at 5:41:50 AM GMT
Posts: 13
Happy Fall Jane!  
I concur with Doug’s response.  For the Eldorado NF, the Dispersed Camping Info Sheet ( states explicitly “Dispersed camping is NOT allowed around the following lakes because of heavy visitor use, the presence of summer homes, or surrounding private land: Echo Lake, Caples Lake, Gerle Creek Reservoir, Ice House Canyon Reservoir, Kirkwood Lake, Silver Lake, Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, Woods Lake, Wrights Lake.”

Regarding parking and overcrowded campgrounds, our tract has a campground at the entrance of the road into our cabins. Frequently, during busy holidays, the road becomes barely passable. If the road is not passable for an emergency response vehicle or if a cabin owners access out of from their cabin is blocked, it is a public safety issue. We immediately call the sheriff. They will come and ticket. If it’s jammed up around the campground, we call the concessionaire first. They understand the safety issue and typically gets someone out as quickly as possible. Also, we’ve found that after they come, the number of cars drop because once the concessionaire checks for paid fees, they boot out folks who’ve not paid. If the concessionaire doesn’t respond, we call the sheriff.
Wrights Lake Campground has an info sheet ( that discusses parking and fees and designated parking areas.  Documenting your concerns, referencing public safety and the Eldorado NF fact sheets, should help the FS manage their concessionaire and ensure your safety.

Last edited Wednesday, September 11, 2019
9/12/2019 at 2:24:05 PM GMT
Posts: 2
Thanks for both of your responses. As I mentioned, it has been our local FS who has told us that the public is allowed to camp on our lots and park in our spaces. And both the FS and the concessionaire have allowed parking on both sides of the road reducing the center to a singke not just on soecial days but every weekend. So i will use your information to help educate our FS and concessionaire personnel. We need to help move this back to being an enjoyable experience for all. Janr

Last edited Saturday, September 14, 2019
11/19/2019 at 9:38:17 PM GMT
Posts: 4
Another option, if your local District Ranger is disengaged, is to contact the Forest Supervisor. Not all District Rangers are highly familiar with issues related to recreation residences and conflict with dispersed recreation. If you do go up the chain of command, be respectful and kind as you are more likely to get traction. There is also likely a Staff Officer on your forest who handles recreation issues at the forest level and may be able to engage.


11/21/2019 at 4:39:01 AM GMT
Posts: 4
Hi all, I've done a bit of online reading trying to find guidelines for this as well, as the Mt Hood FS page is lacking of information with regards to dispersed camping and its overlap with the RRP tracts.

Relevant passages addressing this seem to be in the Forest Service Handbook 2709.11, Chapter 40, Special Uses Management, section 41.23C, Use of the Permitted Area, Non-Exclusive or Public Use. Specifics vary depending on the region, some are very specific, others less so, and the National FSH doesn't say much about this at all.

Gallatin National Forest, Region 1, Bozeman MT, Supplement No. 2709.11-2008-1, October 16 2008: "The special use permit does not grant exclusive use of National Forest Land to the holder. The public is allowed free access for all lawful and proper purposes to National Forest System lands by walking across a permitted lot, including roads and driveways. The public does not have the right to enter in or upon, or use structures that are privately owned or constructed by the holder. The Forest Service reserves the right to allow others to use the permitted area in any way that is not inconsistent with the holder's rights and privileges under this permit, after consultation with all parties involved."

Shoshone National Forest, Region 2, Cody WY, Supplement No. 2709.11-2005-1, September 15 2005: "The public has the right to cross land under special use authorization if necessary for access to adjacent National Forest Lands. At the earliest opportunity, borderline or off-lot improvements blocking necessary public access to lakeshore, streamside, and other areas will be removed. The public does not have the right to use land within the permitted lot boundary for activities such as picnicking, camping, or vehicle travel and parking."

Doug, what is the statute behind the "1/4 mile from a structure" guideline? I have heard this referenced but can't seem to find the basis for it.
Appreciate all that you do.

Ian McClure

Last edited Wednesday, November 20, 2019
11/21/2019 at 11:58:01 PM GMT
Posts: 1
The Forest Service says they do not own a bridge that crosses the river and that the cabin owners own it. As a result repairs were made to the bridge.  Since we paid for it can we put up a sign saying it is private property?  We do have a gate and lock on it.

Last edited Sunday, November 24, 2019
11/24/2019 at 4:28:34 PM GMT
Posts: 103

Responding to a couple of posts above.  Regarding Ian's question above, to my knowledge there is no national or regional policy regarding the specific distance disperse camping is allowed from a developed site. Each Forest has a certain amount of leeway to establish guidelines or rules for such things. I've seen documents or flyers generated by different Forests similar to the one posted by Desiree above to inform the general public regarding acceptable practices for dispersed camping. 

Responding to D. Giebelhausen's post, if the bridge is private property of the cabin owners, I believe you could place a "private property" sign on the bridge, but not so sure you could place a "no trespassing" sign.  As a general rule, the Forest Service frowns upon signs which appear to restrict access to forest lands by the general public. Lockable gates are generally authorized to reduce automoble traffic for security purposes, which is probably the best way to prevent or reduce traffic on your bridge, but doesn't prevent the general public from walking across the bridge.

Last edited Sunday, November 24, 2019