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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 11, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Federal cabins: Sweetheart deals or a fight with bloated bureaucracy?

Cabin owners are stewards of federal land

As described in The Times’ article, families on Reclamation land who have had simple cabins 50 or more years now stand to lose them due to the new fee increase [“Families getting pushed out of cherished cabins,” page one, Sept. 9]. Our experience with the Bureau of Reclamation is that of dealing with a heavy-handed bureaucracy whose hidden agenda is to remove all cabins from federal lands.

You will find cabin owners wonderful stewards of the land, and furthermore public access is not limited, as the general public has the right to use the waterfront on those leases. We have been working with the National Forest Homeowners and our congressional representatives to create a new method of valuation and fee establishment that would apply to all federal lands.

Hopefully this will become law in time to save those who cannot afford the new fee increases.

— Bob McIntosh, Conconully Lakes Cabin Owners Association president, Renton

Cabins no sweetheart deal without renter’s rights

I have talked to one of the people interviewed by Jonathan Martin for The Times article about families losing their Forest Service cabins, and the source assures me he emphasized several times that cabins on Forest Service land are there under special-use permits, not leases.

That is not a trivial distinction. Lease holders have rights Forest Service cabin owners can only dream of. We Forest Service cabin owners understood going in that the federal government would be our landlord, but the relationship is very one-sided. When they say, “jump,” you have to ask, “How far?”

Regarding calling the cabins a sweetheart deal: If you project $1,400 for the life of the 20-year permit, that is $28,000 in fees to rent the land. Not exactly chump change, where you may or may not have power, phone, TV, paved roads, winter access, law enforcement or fire protection, to name just a few of the amenities city folk assume exist everywhere.

My cabin is in Northern California at Bucks Lake in the Plumas National Forest. Our fee increase is set to be 400 percent. There is something very wrong with an appraisal system that achieves a 400 percent increase in the middle of the most severe real-estate collapse since the Great Depression.

This is a real problem, affecting real families.

— Mike Hoover, Reno, Nev.

Comments | More in budget cuts, Economy, Environment, Families, Federal government, Housing market, Parks

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