New Forest Service Special Uses Handbook Supplement

Another Forest Service document -- why should you care? To paraphrase a popular slogan, "FS documents matter," but this one may actually matter more than most. The Forest Service Handbook (FSH), and specifically Chapter 40 of that document, details the policies and guidelines that govern the construction, maintenance, and use of recreation residences on National Forest lands, administered by the Forest Service. In short, the FSH governs our cabins in the Southwest Shore. Therefore, it is important that we know what it says! Follow this link to look at the document as you continuing reading this post.

Effective July 1, 2016, the new FSH Supplement clarifies or implements a number of important changes. Roy Glauthier, past president of NFH and frequent at our Annual Meetings, has identified the following items as among the most important changes:

  • Abandonment [41.23.3.b] Allows abandoned cabins and improvements that become property of the United States to be “sold, destroyed or otherwise disposed of.” This provides clear authority for sale or auction of abandoned cabins.
  • Achieving Compliance with Building Requirements [41.23e.3] This paragraph recognizes that cabins may not comply with the described requirements for appearance and structure, but specifies that they should be brought into compliance only when “…opportunities develop during replacement, maintenance or reconstruction affecting the noncompliant issue,…”
  • Seasonal removal of boats and storage of kayaks and canoes [41.23f.6] New language removes requirement for seasonal removal of boats, and allows kayaks, canoes, and other non-motorized recreational equipment to be stored in or under permitted structures.
  • Cabin size [41.23g.2.b] Limits square footage of new or reconstructed cabins to a maximum of 1,400 square feet, which may be limited by factors such as environmental, visual, and historic resources. “Reduction in size of existing authorized cabins is not required prior to permit issuance.”
  • Height [41.23g.2.c] On reasonably level lots, cabins shall be no more than 26 feet from the ground to the peak, or the limit in county ordinances, whichever is less. Additional language in this section is intended to simplify what has been a confusing requirement.
  • Decks, Porches and Patios [41.23g.2.d] This section clarifies allowable deck size. Importantly, new language specifies that historic value must be considered before changes are made to previously authorized decks/porches/patios.
  • Garages [41.23g.2.f] Previously authorized detached garages shall be continued except for specific situations.

Please note that the above excerpts are only a small portion of the complete update. Read the new FSH Supplement carefully, taking special notice of items that pertain to your specific cabin situation.