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Disagreement with FS Ranger on Road Repairs and need help
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7/26/2020 at 3:36:10 AM GMT
Posts: 1
Disagreement with FS Ranger on Road Repairs and need help

Hello! For years we have asked for the forest service to repair the road that goes to our cabin. We have been given various responses depending upon which ranger is in the position. There seems to be a turnover every 2 years. The past two rangers promised that they would get the road fixed. It originally had a culvert which they took out a few years ago. Now it is been washed out and we cannot get vehicles to the cabin and have to park elsewhere and walk. 
a new Ranger is in the position and after our assessment of property, he snuck in that the road is now our responsibility. But due to their neglect in not repairing the road, we now find ourselves responsible for their neglect. The Ranger gave us a long list of what we needed to do to repair the road which if we follow what he wants it will cost us $10k if not more.  This seems utterly ridiculous and the Ranger has not been easy to work with. His behavior over the phone was insulting and condescending to say the least.

Is there a way to hold them responsible for the fixing of the road?

can we ask to work with another Ranger instead of the one we currently have to communicate with?

And we have also been asked to fill the hole a dig a new hole for our outhouse. It was built under compliance, so this is another expense we are shocked to have to do. No other cabin Owner in our area has been asked to do this. Can he request this? 

can NFH help us? I’d like to know our rights. Our cabin is one of the original cabins built in 1930. My family has owned it since the 60s and when we took over, never have we had the requests as this new Ranger is making. Yes we have areas to work on, and we are to the best we can from afar, however we feel like there is some intimidation happening and definitely some disrespect. Help! 



7/27/2020 at 4:24:53 PM GMT
Posts: 28
Joan,

We have heard reports from others in this forest. We are looking into what is going on. Sounds like stories of aggressive inspections and new requirements not previously enforced that we heard around the country during the last permit renewal cycle.

Roads. Many tracts across the country have had to take over maintenance of their tract roads. This is by and large for those roads exclusively used by recreation residence permit holders. However, if there are trails coming into or out of this road, and the greater public must use it to access trails, you could push back on the District on this. At the same time, if it is exclusive to cabin use, there can be advantages to have a road permit. Some tracts can put up a locked gate that only the FS has access to, other then permit-holders. In general, I think the agency is not promoting these security measures, but wherever cabin owners are made to be solely responsible for a road and it is not used for trail access, then it makes some sense to have these kinds of barriers up.

Can you tell me if others access trails from here?

On the outhouse, it's hard to say what that might be about. Perhaps inquire as to what has happened, as this should be the purview of your county to regulate waste water; and most forests do not get involved. I would encourage you to take it up the chain of command, but first, perhaps ask your Ranger for some documentation on why the outhouse has to be moved and how they have determined the new location. There may be some NEPA rules that apply to decisions like this. Also, obtain county documentation on outhouses as this may bolster your response.

The larger question you ask is about rights. Does the Agency have rights to require such things? In a number of cases, the land agency may require the tract to take care of an exclusive road. A cabin permit do not confer the right to a maintained road to access the cabin, however. You have the right to appeal a management decisions to the next level up - in this case, the Forest Supervisor. You have the right to use your cabin within the terms of your permit, and you also have the right to ask for the regulation and documentation when a demand is brought up. How is the determination based?

We feel strongly and advocate with the Agency staff to be our partners and to approach our members and permit holders as partners not with this kind of aggressive set of demands. At times, a cabin owner will fall into a habit of non-compliance and we understand that letters will get progressively more intense, but from what I'm understanding, this is a sudden set of demands from a Ranger quite new to the forest and region. I hope to get some answers on what is happening in the Black Hills NF and have more to share.

Keep trying to be civil, ask a lot of questions. Ask for documentation. If you can send me copies of any of your letters, that would be much appreciated: sleach@nationalforesthomeowners.org.



7/29/2020 at 6:15:03 PM GMT
Posts: 3
If you don't mind me jumping on here, may I ask a question along the same topic? Our road was originally exclusive for FS cabins. After a land exchange went through, the forest service created plots that were accessed from our road. The road then had a county designation number put on it beginning with the letter N followed by four numbers (this is in Apache County, AZ). The road is also used by ranchers who run their cattle in the national forest adjacent to our cabins as well as countless UTVers who access trails the lead off from our road. Is it possible that the forest service should be maintaining this road then?


7/29/2020 at 10:08:01 PM GMT
Posts: 13
You might want to check with the county and the Forest Service. Apache County has a map of their road system online. Additionally, it looks like they recently set policy for N Roads (https://www.co.apache.az.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Adoption-of-an-N-Road-to-an-Adopted-County-Maintained-Road-approved-02-04-2020.pdf). Does your association hold a FS special use permit for the road? If yes, and the land use has changed since the permit was issued, it seems you should be able to go back to them with a case for why your association shouldn't be solely responsible for its maintenance - I'd start with checking the permit language. If your cabin group wasn't issued a special use permit for the road, and land use has changed, you might try getting in contact with the FS roads management team. It looks like they recently completed a motorized travel plan last fall. They may be able to provide guidance as far as options.