Forest Service Permit Fee Invoices - 2013

Cabin 51 Sleeping Cabin Sunset On Friday my "snail mail" arrived from the post office with a "Correction" letter from the Forest Service regarding my earlier 2013 Permit Fee computation. The good news is that my 2013 fees were reduced from the original billing amount. The bad news is that the "Correction" letter may raise questions among all owners about whether their original Forest Service bills are correct.

The correction to my bill was caused by the fee phase-in requirements of CUFFA (Cabin Users Fee Fairness Act).  As you may recall, CUFFA continues to control our annual permit fee calculation until the new Cabin Fee Act (CFA) can be enacted. For 2012-2014 the phase-in rules only apply to Category 3 lots, which were the only lots with a large increase in the 2008 appraised value over the 1998 appraisal. The appraisal values for Category 1 and 2 lots were very similar in 2008 compared to 1998, so if you have a Category 1 or 2 lot, the CUFFA phase-in rules do not impact your 2013 billing calculation, and you probably did not (and will not) receive a correction notice.

Let me address the issue of the 2013 billing computation, so that everyone can check their own invoices to verify that the amounts are correct.

Note:  The following calculation description has been modified slightly from my original June 22 post in order to clarify the effect of the CUFFA phase-in rules.

Because the Cabin Fee Act still has not been passed by the House and Senate, the old CUFFA rules continue to control the annual cabin fee computation.  Last year the base annual permit fee for 2012 (the initial year) was equal to 5% of the 2008 appraised value. Each owner paid the following amount in 2012 unless the CUFFA phase-in rules applied. The 2008 appraised value and 2012 initial base fee for each lot category are as follows:

  • Category 1:  Appraised Value - $ 125,000  2012 Base Permit Fee - $6,250
  • Category 2:  Appraised Value - $  50,000   2012 Base Permit Fee - $2,500
  • Category 3:  Appraised Value - $  32,000   2012 Base Permit Fee - $1,600

However, for Category 3 lots the CUFFA phase-in rules did apply in 2012, which is why Category 3 owners actually paid less than the $1,600 initial fee that was based on 5% of the 2008 appraisal. The phase-in rules were designed to insure that a cabin owner did not have a huge fee increase in a single year. For that reason, in 2012 most Category 3 owners probably only paid between $1,150 and $1,200, depending on what they actually paid in 2011.  (I know it seems complicated, but stick with me here.  :)

Let's move on to the 2013 computation. Since Category 1 and 2 are not subject to the phase-in rule, their 2013 permit fees are simply equal to the prior year's actual annual fee, increased by inflation factor "IPD", as shown on your invoice. The computations are as follows:

Category          2012 Fee        IPD         2013 Fee Category 1        $6,250.00  x  1.017  =   $6,356.25 Category 2        $2,500.00  x  1.017  =   $2,542.50

If you have a Category 1 or 2 lot, your 2013 fees should correspond to the amounts above.

For Category 3, under the phase-in rules, the total 2012 fee increase is phased in over a 3-year period. In 2013, Category 3 lots are in the second year of the 3-year phase-in process. I suggest that you take your 2013 Permit Fee invoice and do the following calculations ASAP, just to be sure the Forest Service got it right on your bill. Here's what you need to do.

Assume for this computation that your actual fee paid for 2012 was $1,200. (Note: When you do your own fee computation, use the actual fee that you paid in 2012.) Using a $1,200 fee amount for 2012, here are the steps to calculate the correct 2013 billing amount:

  • Subtract last year's (2012) Permit Fee from the base permit fee shown above for your Lot Category.  (Category 3:  $1,600 - $1,200 = $400)
  • Divide that difference by 2.  (e.g., $400 / 2 = $200)
  • Add the result to the rent paid in 2012.  (e.g., $200 + $1,200 = $1,400)
  • Multiply that sum by the 2013 IPD of 1.017.  (e.g.  $1,400 x 1.017 = $1,423.80)
  • The result is your 2013 Permit Fee, based on the CUFFA phase-in rules. (e.g., $1,423.80). This should be the amount shown on your invoice.

The Forest Service tried to explain this computation on my Correction Notice, but did not do a very clear job. They also inadvertently used some incorrect sample amounts, which made their explanation totally confusing. If you follow the example shown above and substitute your own amounts, you should arrive at the correct result, which hopefully will match the Forest Service bill.

The payment due date is 30 days after the billing date. If you get a correction notice, the due date is 30 days after the correction notice date. For most of us our payment will be due sometime in mid-July. Please make your payment in a timely manner. If you have questions about your invoice, you should contact the San Bernardino National Forest Billing Representative, David Cruz (phone: 909-382-2623; fax: 909-383-5767; email: He has been very helpful in resolving individual owner issues. Please resolve your questions and issues promptly.

Please Contact Your Senators and Representatives AGAIN!

At the risk of sounding like a "broken record" (you all do remember records, don't you?), here is another appeal to contact your Senators and Representatives yet again this month regarding the Cabin Fee Act (CFA). If the CFA is not enacted into law this year before the new Congressional session convenes in January, then CFA may be dead for the foreseeable future. First, please read the following summary of the CFA status, which was prepared by the National Forest Homeowners (NFH) representative in Washington, D.C.  Next, don't procrastinate!  Take immediate action to contact your Senators and Representatives to urge their timely action in support of the CFA. Passage of the CFA has long-term important ramifications for all of us cabin owners, so please take a few moments to read this article and voice your support, as described below. Thanks.




Cabin owners are approaching the end of a historic five-year journey to secure passage of the Cabin Fee Act that will significantly reform how fees are determined for the Forest Service Recreation Residence Program. After conceiving this approach to determining cabin fees, drafting reform legislation, testifying before multiple hearings in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, working with the Congressional Budget Office to ensure the legislation will not have a negative budget impact and meeting repeatedly with bill sponsors and supporters and with Congressional staff to refine the bill, we are on the verge of success!

We now have a bill that is bipartisan, noncontroversial, revenue neutral, has the support of the Forest Service and no opposition. What we need is to convince Congress that the CFA merits priority attention that must not be blocked by the partisan, ideological disputes now preventing so much legislation.

Nearly all Senators and Representatives are home for much of August. Now is an opportune time to contact them and their staff. When legislators return to Congress, the schedule will be short and crowded. Congress is in session for only three weeks in September and another few weeks after the elections when they will return for a very busy "Lame Duck" session. We must prevent them from overlooking the CFA as parochial legislation. The CFA is poised for passage in September with a House floor vote expected and a Senate committee "mark-up" and floor vote possible. While lame duck action on the CFA may be necessary, we hope things are not carried that far, when our bill will have to compete for attention with controversial tax, budget and fiscal matters.

Cabin owners are being urged, once again, to contact their Senators and Representatives with the following simple message points and request:

(1) The Cabin Fee Act is vital to keep the historic cabin program as the largest source of Forest Stewardship and family recreation on the National Forests, serving over 14,000 families and generating more than 5 million visitor days annually.

(2) Without the fee reforms of the CFA, many cabin owners will be faced with draconian fee increases that will force the sale or abandonment of multi-generational cabins, drastically altering the overall program.

(3) In stark contrast to the current cabin fee system, the CFA has been developed to provide a fair, consistent and predictable fee structure supported by nearly all cabin owners.

(4) The CFA has strong bipartisan support in both House and Senate, is regarded as noncontroversial and will have no negative effect on the Federal budget according to the Congressional Budget Office.

(5) The CFA is supported by the Forest Service because it will be much more economical and simpler to administer.

(6) The biggest hurdle to passage is not the content of the CFA but Congressional procedural delays and obstructions that have nothing to do with this legislation.


A direct link to Contact your US Legislators:

Aubrey King, NFH Washington Representative August 2, 2012

Forest Service Bills -- Were You Surprised?

By now everyone should have received a bill from the Forest Service for the 2012 annual permit fee. Because the proposed Cabin Fee Act (CFA) has not yet become law, the fees continue to be calculated using the existing CUFFA rules. As you may recall, CUFFA dictates that the annual permit fee will be 5% of the most recent appraisal value, which is now the 2008-2009 appraisal.  The fee amount will be adjusted annually by an inflation index. Because of some CUFFA fee phase-in regulations, the annual fee in 2012 is limited to no more than 125% of the 2011 annual fee. Since CUFFA is now using the 2008-2009 appraisal values, the 2012 permit fee for all three of the Big Bear Tract lot categories will be capped by the 125% rule. We do not know exactly what each cabin owner's annual fee should be in 2012, because the 2011 fees were slightly different for cabins within each lot category. Therefore, each cabin owner should locate his or her 2011 fee amount and then multiply that amount by 1.25. The resulting amount should equal the 2012 permit fee shown on your Forest Service bill. If it does not, you may wish to contact Katie Nelson at the Forest Service for clarification.

Here are the 2008-2009 appraisal values and CUFFA calculations for the four lot categories in the Big Bear Tract:

20110209 Ltr re FS Appraisal Report - Table.jpg

If you have questions or comments, please use the "Leave a Reply" form below, or send a private message to us using the "Contact Us" link in the main menu above.

For those of you who feel that the fees are unreasonably high, and that the 10-year appraisal process is too arbitrary and time-consuming, this would be a good time to redouble your efforts to convince Congress to enact the Cabin Fee Act (CFA). For more information about how you can advocate for the CFA, please read the recent post called "Cabin Fee Act (CFA) or CUFFA?"


2012 Forest Service Billing

Forest Service logo

"I don't know the exact mailing date, but our new billing specialist in the Supervisor's office is working on it, and last I heard they should be out in the next 3-4 weeks."

If we don't start receiving the bills by mid-April, I will check with Katie again.