Oregon Forest Homeowners' Association
Generations of family and friends in Oregon’s forests.
Stewards and conservationists of Oregon’s forests.
Preserving and protecting Oregon’s Forest cabins. Leaving a legacy in Oregon’s forests
for the next generation of cabin users.
President's Message...By Scott Letourneau
Dear Cabin Owners-
We hope you all had a happy and safe start to the New Year. The first thing we would like to do is apologize for the lack of communication over the last several months.
This letter contains some very important information, and we hope you all take the time to read it and share the information with your families and relatives who may utilize your forest cabin. Not to be too dramatic, but the very future of OFHA as an organization is at stake.
All of the dues-paying OFHA members from 2014 and 2015 are receiving this letter, and are invited to come and vote on and discuss the future of OFHA at our annual meeting next month. (See Below) We have discovered and confirmed some pretty significant errors in one of our corporate documents, the Articles of Incorporation. In this document, we are incorrectly incorporated as a 501(c) (3) organization when we should be registered with both the State and the IRS as a 501(c) (4). In addition, we are currently incorrectly registered as a Public Benefit Corporation when we should be a Mutual Benefit Corporation. We have amended and corrected the Articles, and the restated Articles are available for review on our website www.oregonforesthomeowner.com in the “LINKS” section about half way down the right side of the page. These Restated Articles will be discussed and voted on at the April meeting.
OFHA has had a severe and chronic problem with apathy and lack of participation from cabin owners for at least ten years. You probably have noticed that there was not a summer newsletter in 2015, and there has not been a winter newsletter so far this year. The reason is that we do not have enough people with enough time to collect the stories, pictures, anecdotes, and other material and then to interface with the publisher to create a newsletter. We did not send out dues envelopes last summer because we did not feel it was appropriate while we are actually having discussions about possibly dissolving the organization. We have not had a Vice President for at least 6 years, and as such, we have no succession plan to replace me at the end of 2016. Even during the last ten years of the CUFFA appraisal cycle and the entire goings on with the CFA, we struggled to recruit Board volunteers and carry on the business of the organization. There are over 1,400 Special Use Permit holders in Oregon. Our annual meetings have had an average attendance over the last six years of 30 people. That is barely 2% of cabin owners, and a minuscule fraction of the many thousands of relatives, friends, and extended family members who use the 1,400 forest cabins in Oregon.
We simply do not have enough cabin owners with the energy and free time to continue the business of the Organization.
The writing has been on the wall for some time, but we have now finally reached a tipping point. The Board has been discussing the possible future course for OFHA and has determined that it may no longer be logical or prudent to continue. As such, we have started to investigate the process of possibly dissolving the organization. Some of the arguments for dissolving include:
- Oregon is unique in that we are the only state with a state-level homeowner’s organization. The reason is likely two-fold: First, State-level organizations have basically not been found to be necessary, as much of what we do is simply redundant to or more efficiently accomplished by NFH. For example, for the last many years, NFH has led the entire process leading to the eventual passage of the CFA. Many dedicated Oregon cabin owners participated in these efforts through their affiliation with NFH, and Oregon cabin owners will continue to participate in the final rule-making process and implementation, but all of the CFA updates and CFA calls to action came straight from NFH. Also, many people with only a fixed amount of time and energy to dedicate to cabin issues elect to participate at the level of their tract. Second, every other tract and State is faced with the same dilemma that we are: namely, that everyone has very busy lives and despite how much we love our cabins and want to protect them, very few have the time and energy to commit to what it takes to keep an all-volunteer organization vital. Face to face meetings are cumbersome and travel is time consuming (see attendance comment above) for both Board meetings and annual membership meetings.
- Most Tracts interact directly with the Forest Service and/or NFH, which makes us largely redundant.
- The CFA has passed, which was the key purpose for OFHA in the past ten years.
- Mostly because of #s 1 and 2, we have had incredible difficulty finding dedicated volunteers.
One of the things we have been struggling with in considering dissolution is the history of OFHA and the Possessory Interest Tax. As you may know, OFHA was formed many years ago, primarily in response to the issue of a Possessory Interest Tax (PIT) being debated in the Oregon Legislature. The early leaders of OFHA were very effective in thwarting this tax on Oregon cabin owners and should be commended for their efforts. There is not CURRENTLY a threat of this type of tax being enacted. We actually enjoy the status of having a permanent exemption enacted by the State Legislature, but it does not mean that it could not rear its ugly head again in the future. If OFHA were to dissolve, NFH has not been particularly helpful in the past in taking the leadership on State level issues. However, it still may not be logical or practical for OFHA to continue as an organization solely for this POTENTIAL issue. One of the concepts we are considering is creating a streamlined Possessory Interest Tax Political Action Committee (PIT-PAC) dedicated to monitoring and reacting to this issue. (See Below)
So- What are we to do now? The Board does not take this decision lightly, and we are saddened by the possibility of dissolving OFHA.
We have decided to send you all this letter and invite you to attend the annual meeting in Eugene next month to discuss our future. But we also know all too well that many cannot come to a meeting, so we are asking (begging!) for your input on two key questions to help us guide our decisions. Each of the following questions can be answered with yes or no, but we encourage you to elaborate in your comments. For your response to be considered by the Board, you MUST include:
- Your Name
- Your Tract and Lot number
- A phone number or email address to verify who you are and that you are an OFHA Member
- Are you coming to the annual Meeting in Eugene next month, and if so how many will attend?
- Are you willing and able to volunteer as an OFHA Board Member and/or Officer? (Job descriptions below) We are seeking official nominations for President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Newsletter Editor which will be considered by the Nominating Committee, and the Board. Please identify which officer position or positions you are willing to be considered for, or if you are willing to serve as a Board Member representing your Forest.
- Do you support dissolving OFHA and transferring our reserves either 100% to NFH or 50% to NFH and 50% to a Possessory Interest Tax Political Action Committee (PIT-PAC) if one can be formed?
Your responses to these questions MUST be received by April 1, 2016 and should be mailed to:
PO BOX 176
Walterville, OR 97489
Or emailed to:
Oregon Forest Homeowners Board of Directors
C2 Steering Committee
Geoff Anderson, Brad Aspell, Barbara Bailey, Pete Bailey Dave Damron, Doug Gann, Roy Glauthier, Jay Tripathi and Ernie Atenci - Exec Director
C2 Committee Members (past and present)
Mike Hoover, Glen Hildreth, Dick Almy, Al Molineux, Bernie Kosola, Ron Yandt, David Mead, Lynn Watkins, Albert Pollmar, Dick Burrows, Sarah Dahl, George Cardinet, Sally Goodin, Fran Filer, Ted Filer, Nancy Chapman, Barry Davis, Mary Clarke, Ver Hoef, Sharon Karr, Bill Kennedy and Bill Johnson
C2 Washington Representatives
Aubrey King, Aubrey King & Associates
Michelle Giguere, Ball Janik LLP
Heath Heikkila, Ball Janik LLP