United States Forest Washington 14th & Independence SW
Department of Service Office P.O. Box 96090
Agriculture Washington, DC 20090-6090
File Code: 1570-1 (L)
Date: June 12, 1998
Ms. Starla Youngberg
P. O. Box 8049 CERTIFIED MAIL - R.R.R.
Port Alexander, Alaska 99836
Dear Ms. Youngberg:
We have completed our review of your April 23, 1998, appeal of Regional Forester Janik's
January 14, 1998, decision to increase rental fees for your full-time agricultural residence permit issued under the June 4, 1897, Organic Administration Act. Title 36 CFR 251.57(g) provides: "Except where specified otherwise by terms of a special use authorization, rental fees may be adjusted whenever necessary: (1) As a result of review, reappraisal; or (2) a change in the holders qualifications under paragraph (b) of this section; and (3) notice is given prior to initiating or adjusting rental fees."
A letter from Regional Forester (RF) Phil Janik, signed by Deputy RF Jim Caplan, dated
December 24, 1997, was sent to you giving notice of the adoption of the land use fee schedule and included the parameters under which appeals may be filed. Since the appeal addresses the Forest Service decision to increase your fees, only issues related to the development of the Regional fee schedule may be appealed at this time. The new fee schedule is the result of a two-year fee review and reappraisal for the Alaska Region. Your 1999 bill will reflect the new fees that will be phased-in over a two-year period, since the increase is greater than $500 in one year. Your fee for use of this agricultural residence site in 1997 was $814 per year.
The first issue raised in your appeal is that the fee increase is outrageous. One reason for the significant increase is that these fees have not been reviewed for several years, and incremental annual adjustments have not been uniformly applied. As of 1997, the appraised value of this lot was $7,300. This value is comparable to similar parcels identified in our appraisal. Your permit may be transferred one or more times, increasing its value and desirability in comparison to other permits.
Secondly, you have questioned what other parcels were considered by the appraiser as comparisons to determine fair market value. The initial appraisal work for the Tongass was conducted by Horan-Corak & Co. of Sitka, Alaska. The data base for the Chugach National Forest was supplied by Black-Smith & Richards of Anchorage, Alaska. Both are well respected, designated and state certified to conduct appraisals in Alaska. The market survey methodology was employed by Forest Service staff, incorporating and building upon the previous appraisal work. The appraisals and market survey data were applied to each special use permit to determine individual lot values. The appraisal process in all instances complied with the Uniform Standards of Professional Practice.
The final objection raised is, your option, if exercised, to hire an appraiser approved by the Agency to supply a second opinion of value. You have indicated your distrust of the Agency and object to the Agency determining who is and who is not qualified to give value to the parcel. The background and experience of appraisers varies widely and a lack of knowledge or experience can lead to inaccurate or inappropriate appraisal practice. The Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice Competency provision requires an appraiser to have both the knowledge and the experience required to perform a specific appraisal service competently. Forest Service regulations require payment of fair market value as determined by an appraisal or other sound business management principles for use of National Forest System land as provided in 36 CFR 251.57(a). Absent another appraisal, nothing in the records supports a challenge to the appraisal procedure. The Alaska Region market survey methodology is consistent with national policy and internal manuals and handbooks.
In conclusion, you have not provided any additional evidence or data, which would indicate the process used in developing the Alaska Region land use fee schedule was incorrect. Accordingly, Regional Forester Janik's request for dismissal of your appeal is granted.
This constitutes the final administrative determination of the Department of Agriculture unless the Secretary of Agriculture elects to review the decision pursuant to 36 CFR 251.99 (f). We will notify you of the determination.
/s/ Gloria Manning
Reviewing Officer for the Chief
Regional Forester, R-10