Good Afternoon All,
Yes, it was a full three days in DC, but the results have been very worthwhile! In addition to preparations and a successful Hearing, we made 11 Congressional office visits Thursday afternoon and Friday.
The Hearing was very well attended with 10 Representatives making appearances. This was acknowledged as very positive, as much lower attendance is the norm. Deputy Chief of the Forest Service, Joel Holtrop, was asked hard questions. The audio says it all. All of our written testimonies and an audio of the Hearing can be found at http://republicans.resourcescommittee.house.gov/Calendar/EventSingle.aspx?EventID=181123
A tone of cooperation was heard from the Forest Service in testimony and by personnel attending the meeting. The FS apparently will not oppose the bill, but did raise some issues that will need to be better clarified. We agree these issues need discussion and that mutually beneficial solutions should be sought.
1. Revenue projections, to meet the ‘pay-as-you-go’ concerns of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), are the most demanding. Suggestions were made to consider different tier levels and/or percentages per tier. We believe the CFA, as written, addresses these issues already and is comparable and defensible.
2. There is a need to reduce FS administrative costs of the Program going forward. Certainly the adoption of the CFA will be a big step in this direction.
3. A plan to address a transition period before full implementation of a new law will be necessary. Right now fees are being determined from three different appraisal cycles, adding to the need for clarifying discussions about any transition.
4. The FS requested support for studying those cabins situations that are adjacent to and possess characteristics of urban areas.
With the guidance of Congressman Doc Hastings and the Subcommittee, we hope to address these concerns with constructive dialogue over the next few weeks. Any ‘markup’ session in the Committee will be facilitated if cabin owners and the Forest Service are working together to solve problems with mutual understanding.
Additional reports and timely updates will be on the NFH website blog. A special Thank You to Sharon Karr for reporting much of the blow by blow at: http://nationalforesthomeowners.org/leadership/
Though much remains, the forward movement is very encouraging.
Peter D. Bailey
NFH Director & C2 Legislative Contact chair