Beginning May 20, the Forest Service will conduct “Prescribed Burns” in the Bluff Mesa area, south of Big Bear above the Metcalf Tract of cabins.Read More
Representatives from all the Big Bear Forest Service cabin tracts met with local FS staff on April 20 to discuss numerous common issues and concerns.Read More
If you have visited Keystone Point since last summer, you may have noticed some new power poles and power lines in the area. Here's a report from Dick Fisher (Cabin 85), written in November 2017, which provides details about what is happening:
Power Pole Replacement and Relocation of Power Lines
Forest Service and Bear Valley Electric
With no notice of any kind to cabin owners, the Forest Service and Bear Valley Electric System began construction several weeks ago on the first phase of a multi-year project to install new wood power poles on the SW Shore, and to move all power lines off of trees and onto the new poles. The project is likely eventually to result in all telephone lines also being removed from trees and routed onto the new wood poles, in addition to the electric lines.
This initial phase of this BVES project is limited to a 12-cabin service area located just south and above Keystone Point Road. It involves re-routing the main line downhill from highway 18 so that it runs between cabins 27 & 39, down to a point around the midpoint of Keystone Point Road. From there the line runs downhill along the northern edge of the road, down to the Keystone Point turnaround near the existing pole there, from which it is routed in a southerly direction up the slope.
The service connections to the three cabins along lower Keystone Rd (Nos. 16, 17, and 18) will be fed from behind the cabins rather than from the main line along Keystone Road. Other cabins involved at this time are Nos. 14 through 22, 25, 26 and maybe 73. BVES has located the new poles as close as possible to roads and driveways to accommodate service/repair access.
Dick Fisher and Steve Harbison, along with Bob Hritz, immediately after hearing about the work in progress, met on the job site with BVES management, walked the affected area and reviewed the project. We pointed out some problem areas and requested that several of the new poles be re-located. We were able to persuade BVES to re-locate several poles that would have run lines directly in front of primary views from cabin porches, including the top new pole along Keystone Point Road. We were not able to get them to consider moving the new poles off of Keystone Point Road, but the three poles there are quitetall, so that the lines will run well above the direct views of the meadow and lake.
BVES and the Forest Service have assured us in writing that for future phases they will consult with us during the planning phase, before finalizing plans.
Most of the existing poles are at (or beyond) the end of their useful lives, rotted in the ground, and the attachments to trees are less reliable than to poles, so this project will provide more safety and protection against fire or electrical safety hazards caused by fallen power lines. But the project will no doubt continue to present challenges in terms of interference with views. Our goal will continue to be to push for pole and line placements that minimize any damage to the views of the neighborhood or from individual cabins.
(Note: Follow this link to a map of the area showing roads and cabin numbers.)
Each summer our Association sponsors an annual Brush Clearance Project to gather and remove brush, shrubbery, tree limbs, slash, and other forest debris that constitute a fire hazard. Please pile those items in an easily accessible location on the uphill side of one of the tract access roads. When locating the piles, please do not to block parking areas or access roads. Our forestry contractor will either haul away the piles, or else chip and spread the material as ground cover, away from immediate cabin areas.
The chipping and/or hauling will occur sometime after Labor Day, so now is the time to start clearing your cabin area and creating your debris pile. We will advise everyone of the exact date and other details of the pickup as soon as the project is finalized.
The chipper can handle branches and small tree trunks up to 9” in diameter, so feel free to eliminate small white fir trees or other small trees that are growing beneath the overhead canopy of any larger tree, or that are crowding other more desirable trees. We encourage you to implement these forest maintenance practices not only in your immediate cabin area, but also in common areas nearby. Remember, however, that you must get prior Forest Service approval to cut trees with a trunk diameter of 9” or larger (at chest height).
Finally, we again reiterate that this project does not include the removal of pine needles or unwanted cabin junk, so please do not include those items in the brush and debris piles.
Thanks, in advance, to all cabin owners, families, and friends for doing their part to clear brush and debris from their cabin areas to help keep our local forest healthy and safe.
By now all cabin owners should have received and paid the 2017 Forest Service Annual Permit invoices. If you did not receive an invoice from USDA Forest Service, we suggest you immediately contact Scott Evans, our Forest Service Special Uses Coordinator (909-382-2802 or firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have not yet paid your annual Forest Service Annual Permit fee, we suggest that you pay it as soon as possible, to avoid issues and additional charges. The Cabin Fee Act is now in effect and stabilized, so there appear to be no outstanding unresolved issues. At this point the only future fee increase allowed under the CFA is an annual adjustment for inflation. There are no more time-consuming, costly, and controversial appraisals involved in the fee determination process. For more information please follow this link to read "Cabin Fee Act - 2017 Update" on the National Forest Homeowners (NFH) website.
Speaking of National Forest Homeowners, the NFH organization continues to do excellent work on behalf of the owners, families, and friends of the almost 14,000 cabins that are part of the federal Recreation Residence Program on National Forest System land across the country. We encourage you to visit the NFH website (NationalForestHomeowners.org) for current information on the implementation of the Cabin Fee Act, as well as other issues that are important to Forest Service cabin owners. You might also consider becoming a member of NFH, as a way to offer your financial support the organization.
Hello, Big Bear Tract Cabin Owners,
The Forest Service has asked us to communicate to you the following appeal for information about flying squirrels in our local forest. Please read their message and news release, and then reply with your feedback to the email or telephone number shown below. Thanks very much. ____________________________________________________
Dear Recreation Residence Tract Residents,
If cabin owners have seen any flying squirrels at their tracts, we would like to hear from them. We are particularly interested in the following information:
- Name/address of site
- Approximate dates/years of observations
- What was the flying squirrel doing?
- Do you see them regularly?
Please share this email with as many cabin owners and users as possible. If anyone has sightings to report, please contact our District Wildlife Biologist, Robin Eliason. Her contact information is below. Thank you. We appreciate your help.
Robin Eliason District Wildlife Biologist Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest Mountaintop Ranger District Phone: 909-382-2832 Fax: 909-866-2867 email@example.com
P.O. Box 290 41374 North Shore Drive Fawnskin, CA 92333-0290
U.S. Forest Service, San Bernardino National Forest For Immediate Release Contact: John Miller at (909) 382-2788 Twitter: @sanbernardinonf
In Search of the San Bernardino Flying Squirrel – Have You Seen One?
SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., April 21, 2015 – If you have seen a flying squirrel, the US Forest Service would like to hear from you. The San Bernardino flying squirrel is a subspecies of the northern flying squirrel. It is only known from the San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains although it has not been seen in the San Jacinto Mountains for about twenty years.
Flying squirrels are closer in size to chipmunks than our larger native gray squirrels. They are nocturnal and have large flaps of skin that connect their front and hind feet. These flaps of skin allow them to glide from tree to tree. They do not fly in the same way that birds do – no flapping is involved. Their flat tail is used as a rudder to steer as they glide.
US Forest Service biologists have been studying flying squirrels on the Mountaintop District of the San Bernardino National Forest since the early 1990’s. Research is needed to have a better understanding of the current distribution, their habitat requirements, and the status of the population. Much of what we know about the distribution is based on reports from residents who see flying squirrels at their bird feeders at night or those who have found dead flying squirrels.
If you have seen flying squirrels in our local mountains, please report the sighting information to Robin Eliason (firstname.lastname@example.org 909-382-2832). Photographs would also be appreciated.
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: email@example.com). He has been very helpful in resolving individual owner issues. Please resolve your questions and issues promptly.
Our local Forest Service Ranger Katie Nelson recently sent out a notice to all the SBNF tract groups indicating which tracts would be inspected later this summer. She is looking for volunteer inspectors -- which can be individuals or teams -- to do these cabin inspections using a prescribed Forest Service Inspection Form. You cannot do the inspection for your own tract! If you are interested in inspecting one of the following tract groups, please email Katie Nelson and indicate your willingness to volunteer. If you have a preference for a particular tract, let her know. Katie would like to hear from you by Friday, June 29, so please send your email now!
- One-half of the Southwest Shore of Big Bear Tract (48 cabins)
- The other half of the Southwest Shore of Big Bear Tract (48 cabins)
- Lake Arrowhead tracts (15 cabins)
- One-half of the Lakeview Tract (48 cabins)
- The other half of the Lakeview Tract (47 cabins)
- Poligue Tract (24 cabins)
- South Fork Tract (50 cabins)
- Stetson Creek Tract (22 cabins)
Katie will be scheduling at least two training sessions to make sure that all volunteers are applying the inspection criteria in the same manner. Once you are trained, Katie will provide inspection forms, tract maps, and "Forest Service Volunteer" vests to indicate that you are official!
If you have some free time, we encourage you to volunteer for this important project. Invite some of your Big Bear neighbors to join you on a team. This will be an interesting chance to see other Forest Service tracts within the SBNF.
Thanks in advance for your help.