User Fees for Private Cabins on Federal Land
|I understand the concerns of Idahoans who own cabins on Forest Service land and the impact that the dramatic increase in user fees proposed by the Forest Service will have on them. In 2000, Congress passed the Cabin User Fee Fairness Act (CUFFA), which was intended to create a fair appraisal process for cabin owners. However, the recent appraisals make it abundantly clear that the law is not working as Congress intended.
In order to address this issue, I have cosponsored legislation introduced by Representative Doc Hastings (R-WA) that would end the current appraisal system and replace it with a fee structure that ensures fairness for both cabin owners and taxpayers. H.R. 1159, the Cabin Fee Act of 2013, establishes a tiered yearly fee structure based on current appraisals and tied to inflation, so that appraisals will not have to be done in the future. In addition, it institutes a transfer fee when cabins or sold or ownership is transferred to ensure that taxpayers are adequately reimbursed for the value of the land at that time. This new system will create the stability and predictability for cabin users that have been lacking under CUFFA.
The Recreation Residence Program was created to encourage private stewardship on public lands and many of the affected cabins have been handed down for generations by families that have strong ties to the land and the surrounding communities. I am hopeful that a solution can be found that allows Idahoans to continue to enjoy our public lands for many years to come.