Monday, June 13, 2011

A Cabin on National Forest Land

usbackroads information--A Cabin on National Forest Land.

At Forestry school in Berkeley the talk was always about where we could find a mountain cabin framing a mountain meadow filled with elk, a stream flowing through with trout, and of course snowcapped peaks in the distance.  It seems with every professional Forester should get a deed for such a property.  It is a professional responsibility.

For most folks mountain cabins are just a dream.  Back in the 1920's and 30's it was fairly easy to get a permit to put up a small cabin up on the National Forests.  In fact, 14,000 cabins remain from those days and can still be found on the National Forests.

Congress founded the National Forests but for many years neglected to give the Forest Service any money for providing for public recreation.  So back around 1915 somebody in the Forest Service got the bright idea to issue permits for the public to build small mountain cabins on public land.  For a nominal fee the public got to use the public land for recreation and the Forest Service got a small fee to return to the federal treasury.

Then the National Forests became much more popular in the 1960's and the Forest Service stopped issuing new permits and in fact starting cancelling some permits to build campgrounds.  There was some jealously and the Forest Service got caught in the middle.  CBS News even did a program on the cabin program under the banner of "the fleecing of America".   So quickly a Forest Service recreation program became a political hot potato.

Well, owning a cabin on the National Forests does have some downsides to ownership.  You own the building, the government owns the land.  Since it is public land I can picnic on your lawn.  The Forest Service is your landlord and you have to meet "standards" set for maintenance and visuals.

You get a special use permit good for twenty years and currently you pay a 5% of the land value as an annual fee for "renting the land".   That 5%, well it was a good deal when only rural folks used the National Forests.    In our part of the woods, the Microsoft folks discovered Lake Wenatchee and promptly brought up all the waterfront properties.   So those old Forest Service lots were suddenly worth in the neighborhood of 400,000 dollars and that 5% fee translated to $16,000 a year in rent!!   The good news is you only pay property taxes on the cabin and not the land!

The cabin owners are trying to get Congress to pass legislation limiting the high end fees.  In your interested in more information here is the link to the National Forest Homeowners Association.  They are a VERY politically astute group.

Cabins do come up for sale.  What you are buying is the improvements and then the Forest Service will usually transfer the permit.

Other agencies also have cabin programs, but they are much more limited in scope than on the National Forests.  Forest Service employees are prohibited from buying into the permits, however some have done it the old fashioned way by marrying into the cabin.  Yes, all those college educated Foresters kept hanging around all the ranchers daughters that were school teachers!

So I did find my cabin in the mountains and bought it.  Fortunately, well before the Microsoft crowd came into money.  AND it is private land.  No, Susie was not a ranchers daughter.  

It does have a mountain meadow, elk and a snow capped peak in the distance.  Did miss out on the trout stream.  I had to buy the property.  Professional responsibility you know. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Hell of a Way to Run a Desert"

Way back in the 1980's when Salt Lake City was flooding from the mountain snow melt the mayor said "Hell of a way to run a desert!".    We were traveling through Salt Lake City and the sandbags along the street was a sight.  Well, we are back to future. 

This spring in the desert of eastern Washington has been cooler and wetter than any other spring.  Even worse than last spring!!  How could this be possible?  So we had one or two days of good weather followed by rain and clouds for a couple of days.  This has been going on since we returned in late March. 

So instead we have filled the time with tax preparation, doctors appointments, and getting the house ready for sale or rent.  All the while watching the long-range forecast.  Susie is still dealing with the rash on her replacement ankle.

Speaking of which, I did complete my required annual fire training.  Yep, forecast is for cold and rainy through June in Washington, Idaho and Montana.  The weatherman joked that fire season will start on October 24 and end on October 31st!!  I did work two days sending Forest Service crews to Arizona and fires down there.  The Horseshoe Two Fire is burning on the Coronado National Forest and in a area we covered last winter Cave Creek, Portal Arizona.  The fire has burned hot, which does not bode well for recovery in the next few years.  It will be interesting to see the affect on the bird population next winter.  Worth the trip to find out.

I did manage a couple of fishing trips.  In British Columbia we hit three perfect days in a row!!  We also went camping out in the eastern Washington desert.  See last fall's posting on Swanson Lakes Wildlife Management Area.

If you are a snooty fly-fisherman you probably fish with an "strike indicator".  See the picture below.

If you look carefully to the left of the red-wing blackboard you will see a small red "dot" floating in the water.  That is the highfaluting "strike indicator".  When I run into a fly fisherman fishing this method I always ask "So, do you have a worm underneath that bobber?...catch anything on worms?".   As they say the look you will get is priceless!

Speaking of highfaluting or not.  Here is a picture of Bugaboo with his summer hair cut.  Yeah, that tongue makes highfaluting impossible for him.  How does it fit in his mouth?

A wedding for a friends daughter this weekend.  The circle of life goes on.  Hopefully, Brad will be there in spirit and smiling on this special day for his daughter.

Then I promise Montana bound cold weather and all!!  We will start by returning to the Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Area.  But we will also explore the best of city living in Montana by visiting Choteau, White Sulpher Springs and Malta.  Those are our kind of towns.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blog Summary--usbackroads recommended products

Blog Summary--usbackroads recommended products

This is a summary listing of products that I use and have found worthwhile to have in the middle of somewhere.

As always you can support this blog by clicking on the product and entering Amazon through usbackroads.  I do get a small commission for products purchased through usbackroads and that helps support this site.  Thank you, I really appreciate your support.

Garmin 255W GPS
Buying Backroads Maps
Image Stablilized Binoculars
FSR Handheld Radio's
Music Players for the backroads
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Learning to Use Map and Compass
Under Garments for backroads
Over Garments for backroads

The following two entries are reviews of the Pentax k-x digital single lens reflex camera.  It has been replaced by the Pentax k-r.  However, it is still on sale for a short while longer.  The k-x is probably the last digital SLR that will run on AA batteries.  This is a great feature for backroads, since you always have batteries charged and ready.  The k-r is also a good camera, but it does not directly take AA's.

Pentax k-x Camera--Part One
Pentax k-x Camera--Part Two

Listening to the outside world means AM radio due to atmospheric skip.  This antenna will dramatically improve your AM radio reception.  One of the wonders of the world, that hardly anybody knows about!!

AM Compact Loop Antenna
AM Radio's for backroads use

Sooner or later you are going to get an e-book reader.  They are ready for prime time now!!  The only thing I would add to the review is that Barnes and Noble is coming out with a cheaper version of the NookColor for $139.  Worth the money if you are primarily into reading books.  Particularly, if you can check out e-books from your library.  Kindle will be able to download epub which is what most libraries use this fall.

E-Book Readers

This is now my favorite jacket.  If you are the type of person that is always cold get one of these in the "puffy" style.  That is they look like "puffy" down jacket with the omni-heat product on the inside lining.  I fished in British Columbia this spring with a wind chill in the 20's.  I was warm and comfortable in my inner liner.  So much so that I even unzipped a couple of times since I was getting too warm.  My friend with five layers was cold as the wind penetrated all five layers.  When I gave me the outer jacket he was toasty warm for the rest of the day.  Great product for people who are always cold or for people who are out in the cold. 

Omni-Heat Jackets

Thanks again, for ordering through the usbackroads site and Amazon.