Senate approves Tester’s plan to halt cabin fee increases

Senator also cosponsored successful amendments to strengthen wildfire protection

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The U.S. Senate has approved a measure by Senator Jon Tester to halt cabin fee increases for one year on U.S. Forest Service land.

Tester teamed up with Senator Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, to add a bipartisan amendment to the Interior Appropriations Act.  The measure places a one-year moratorium on fee increases for cabins on land managed by the Forest Service.  Cabin owners approached the Senators after the current system for appraising cabin values led to significant increases in cabin fees.

“More work needs to be done, but this is a big step forward,” said Tester, a member of the influential Senate Appropriations Committee.  “Cabins are an important part of Montana’s heritage.  This measure gives cabin owners some breathing room until a better system is put place.”

“Cabin owners in Idaho and throughout the country have major concerns regarding the increasing fees for recreational residences,” Crapo said.  “We need to put a more equitable fee structure in place, and the moratorium provides the additional time needed to adequately and fully explore the options to address these concerns.”

Several other western senators cosponsored the Tester-Crapo amendment, including Senator Max Baucus.

“These huge Forest Service fee increases were forcing many Montanans to consider selling their cabins, which in many cases have been enjoyed by families for generations,” Senator Max Baucus said. “I am proud to co-sponsor this amendment to stop the fee hikes.  Now we can work on a fee structure that makes sense for Montanans.”

The Interior Appropriations Act also includes an amendment cosponsored by Tester to better protect communities from catastrophic wildfires.  The measure, called the  FLAME Act, creates a more stable funding source for combating wildfire on federal lands.

The Interior Appropriations Act overwhelmingly passed the Senate with a vote of 77-21. 

Tester will now be part of a team of negotiators from the Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to work on a final version of the Interior Appropriations Act.