Hello All-It has been a remarkably mild winter thus far, and many cabin owners have enjoyed unexpected off-season access. What a bonus! Visiting our cabins during winter can be such a rewarding experience: fewer people overall, no tourists, and the quiet and serenity of a landscape blanketed in snow. It's almost always worth the extra effort, even if only for a day trip, so get out there if you can.
There is a request for financial support by the National Forest Homeowners Association included in our winter newsletter, and I hope everyone can support this effort. We are in a final push to try to get the CFA passed, but we need to be prepared for moving forward with other strategies if we (or I should say our elected representatives in Congress) fail in this effort.
Our annual meeting is scheduled for March 15th in Portland. Details on the time and place are in the newsletter and here on our home page. We hope to see as many of you as possible.
As always, please write us with your stories, history, anecdotes, and your concerns.
Dear Cabin Owners and NFH members,
Six years into the effort to correct the problems with CUFFA, we approach the end of another December with no imminent resolution for the cabin fee crisis. The combined obstacles presented by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) revenue requirements and a dysfunctional Congress remain in the way. This is in spite of the fact we have broad Congressional support for our truly bipartisan legislation: the Cabin Fee Act of 2013 (CFA), S. 1341 and H.R.1159. Cabin owners across the country desperately need help today. Sky-high bills for 2014 cabin fees arrive daily. Backs are against the wall, and many talk of removing their cabins.
This is where we are.
In the House, under the guidance of Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA), H.R.1159 has passed out of committee, but was found revenue deficient by the CBO. Efforts to attach the CFA to other legislation, thereby absorbing the shortfall, have not yet succeeded. The House National Resources Committee requested the CBO re-evaluate their opinion based on updated FS appraisal information supplied months ago, but the CBO has yet to respond to this request.
In the Senate, S.1341 was introduced by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) this summer. A positive hearing on the bill was held last month by the Energy & Natural Resource (ENR) subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining. We have been told that the committee will hold a ‘markup’ session on the bill Thursday, December 19th. S.1341 will also need to be reviewed by the CBO before passage and we do not know whether their decision will be favorable or when it will occur. Our hope is that a CBO opinion will be released soon after the bill is passed by the committee.
This is how we plan to proceed.
All cabin owners are encouraged to delay paying your 2014 permit fee bill as long as possible. If your bill arrived this month and has a due date of January 1, 2014, you still have a 30-day grace period, i.e., January 31, 2014 before incurring any penalty; use this grace period to your advantage. Passage of the CFA is still possible later this month or in January and could modify the 2014 fee structure.
The dedicated C2 leadership group continues work on several fronts.
· Our primary goal and focus remains the immediate passage of the Cabin Fee Act of 2013, it appears this effort will continue into early 2014.
· If the CFA does not pass, we believe discussions with Forest Service leadership about potential administrative remedies could lead to improvements in CUFFA. However, this will not address immediate hardships and imminent cabin loss.
· Legal counsel has been engaged for many months. Failure of Congress to pass the CFA raises consideration of litigation. We believe injustices in CUFFA exist that may be sufficient to file for an injunction stopping the implementation of 2014 fees. An injunction could provide another window of time to get the CFA passed. This may be our only defensive option going forward and additional funding support from NFH membership will be required.
· We will keep you informed in the coming weeks as we navigate these challenging times.
National Forest Homeowners and Cabin Coalition 2
December 12, 2013
Cabin Fee Act link
Please check the NFH website (http://www.nationalforesthomeowners.org/) regularly for further information about the latest CFA developments in 2013 and how you can help advance the cause.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN THE TIME COMES?
Contact our Senators and your Congressperson. Let them know we appreciate their support and want the Cabin Fee Act legislation passed in this new Congress.
Addendum from Pete Bailey, NFHA:
The importance of a prompt ‘markup’ by the Energy & Natural Resources Committee is essential if we expect to have a chance at getting the bill passed this year. We ask that all Oregon cabin owners contact Senator Wyden before Monday, December 2 with the following message. Please try to put this in your own words as much as you can.
Give sincere thanks to Senator Wyden for his support and his commitment to get the Cabin Fee Act, S.1341, passed. This cannot be over emphasized:
Point out how much you appreciate his very positive remarks at the Nov. 20th hearing for S. 1341 by the Energy & Natural Resource Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining.
We are very pleased to have full Forest Service support for S.1341, but stress how important getting the CFA passed into law this year because next year the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evaluations become even more problematic than this year. Ask that S.1341 receive a prompt ‘markup’ by the ENR committee, perhaps just after Thanksgiving. This will encourage a quick response from the CBO and improves our chances of passage this year!
Oregon cabin owners and cabin owners everywhere want to see S. 1341 passed without changes.
Senator Ron Wyden contact information:
Address: 221 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-5244
Senator Jeff Merkley
Address: 313 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-3753
Website to find your Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Also, if you can help support these efforts financially, the NFHA could use additional funds for the lobbying efforts. For more information on how to help go to the NFHA website at: http://nationalforesthomeowners.org/ . If we all work together, hopefully we will have a better and fairer permit fee system in the future.