Tester receives leadership award for efforts to keep Montana cabins affordable
National Forest Homeowners recognizes Senator’s work to lower owners’ fees, preserve Montana traditions
(BILLINGS, MT) – Montana cabin owners today recognized Senator Jon Tester’s determined efforts to keep family cabins affordable in the face of skyrocketing land values.
Butte native and National Forest Homeowners (NFH) representative Jane Van Dyk presented Tester with the organization’s first National Leadership Award for introducing his Cabin Fee Act, a bipartisan bill that will restructure the fee system to reduce annual user fees to as low as $500.
“Forest Service cabins have been a part of Montana’s outdoor heritage for generations, and I will do everything I can to preserve our traditions for our kids and grandkids,” Tester said after accepting the award. “I’m honored to receive this award from an organization that shares Montanans’ passion for our great outdoors.”
“If Senator Tester’s bill doesn’t pass, many folks in Montana will have to walk away from their cabins,” Van Dyk said. “It’s currently unaffordable for most Montanans, and they can’t sell their cabins because the fees are so ridiculous that no one will buy them with all the uncertainty.”
Tester’s bipartisan Cabin Fee Act assigns annual user fees according to an eleven-tier “cabin value” system ranging from $500 to $5,500. This system will provide greater certainty to cabin owners, but will not reduce the Forest Service’s revenue from cabin leasing. It would also require outstanding land appraisals to be completed within two years.
NFH, an organization formed to protect the rights of forest cabin owners, advised Tester on some provisions in the bill.
Tester, a member and former chairman of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, has been working to improve the cabin fee system since 2011. He also introduced the Sportsmen’s Act in 2012 to improve access to public lands for sportsmen and women.