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: July 2, 1998
Mr. John C. Miller
P. O. Box 856 CERTIFIED MAIL - R.R.R.
Sitka, AK 99835
Dear Mr. Miller:
This is in response to your appeal dated March 12, 1998, that we review the fee schedule for the permit on your commercial fish camp of Regional Forester Phil Janik's January 14, 1998, decision to increase rental fees in the Alaska Region.
A letter from Regional Forester Janik, dated December 17, 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 first issue raised in your appeal is that the fee increase is in violation of State and Federal rental lease acts. I have examined the applicable law on this matter, as well as the Regional Forester's determination relating to the fee, and find it proper. The law requires that the Forest Service receive fair market value for the uses made of the public lands. Fair market values are reflected in the annual fees assessed for permits to use the National Forest System (NFS) lands. We periodically adjust the fees to reflect changes in the value over time. In the Alaska Region, a new fee schedule was implemented as a result of a 2-year fee review and reappraisals adjusted by a market survey.
Your last issue is that you have a sizeable investment at the site and a rental fee increase would create a financial hardship. Your permit covers .25 acres of NFS land and supports a commercial fishing camp. In your case, the rental fee increased from $100 in 1997 to $700. This amount is based on our determination of the fair market value of the permitted use premised on fees associated for isolated cabins. However, because of the substantial increase in the annual fee, it will be phased-in according to the Regional fee schedule as follows: current fee = $100; 1999 fee = $400; 2000 fee = $721. This calculation assumes, for example's sake, a 3 percent annual adjustment based upon the Implicit Price Deflator - Gross National Product. The actual adjustment rate for the years 1999 and 2000 will be used.
I appreciate your concern about the impact of these fee increases on your business. It is for that reason the fee is phased-in over several years. Unfortunately, the law does not give the Forest Service the latitude to adjust fees based on hardship.
In conclusion, I have considered the arguments presented in your appeal and applicable laws, regulations, and Forest Service policies on the Alaska's fee increase schedule. I find the fee schedule and appraisal methodology used in this case to be consistent with applicable laws, policies, and regulations. Accordingly, Regional Forester Janik's decision is affirmed and his 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