The Cabin Controversy

Looks like the tax bills might be going up for the folks in the Gallatin National Forest's 198 privately owned cabins, many of which were built decades ago when the U.S. Forest Service began leasing federal lands to Americans in the early twentieth century. Typically, cabin owners have been paying 5% of the fair market value of the leased land each year. But in the 1990s, the Forest Service proposed reappraising the land, which would cause the cabin fees to double, triple, or go even higher.

Despite the Cabin User Fee Fairness Act of 2000 (CUFFA), which was designed to protect cabin owners from large fee hikes, some lease fees have still skyrocketed by as much as 1,000 percent. Senator Jon Tester and Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey postponed the increases for 2010 while Congress re-examines CUFFA. Many believe the time has come for the Forest Service to properly appraise these properties. As Jim Sauser of the Forest Service told the Seattle Times in September: “Ultimately some can’t afford it. Everyone wants to go back in time when things were kinder and gentler and cheaper.”

More information, check out and the U.S. Forest Service at