Important Notice to Forest Service Permittees
Issue 1. Instructions on sending a letter to the Forest Service requesting reclassification of temporary use to transitional priority use.
If you have a recurring temporary use permit issued by the Forest Service and your performance has been “satisfactory”, you must apply for “transitional priority use” in writing to the authorizing officer (name of the Forest Service person on your temporary permit) on or before September 17, 2009 if you want to be considered for conversion to a priority use permit. You may also have to agree to the Forest Service conditions for conversion to priority use, which may involve cost recovery for NEPA analysis.
If your request for a transitional priority use permit is approved, the Forest Service will assign actual use in your highest year in one of the last five plus:
• 25% for permits with 1,000 user days or less - up to the original allocation
• 15% for permits with more than 1,000 user days - up to the original allocation
America Outdoors Association believes all permittees should receive actual use plus 25% in their highest year of the last five (up to the original allocation). We have made this appeal to the Forest Service but the agency has not been changed its position.
For a copy of the model letter to send to the agency send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or find the sample letter in the password protected area on americaoutdoors.org under Final Rules and Regulations. The letter on the website is a read only file which you will have to copy and paste into your word processor.
We strongly suggest that you send the letter to the Forest Service in a manner that requires them to sign to acknowledge receipt of the letter. Ensure that the appropriate authorizing officer in the Forest Service receives this letter before September 17, 2009. Your ranger may be not the appropriate person to receive the letter. The Forest Service may send you a letter regarding conversion to temporary use and a response to the person sending that letter is required. However, you should send your letter requesting transition from temporary to transitional priority use, regardless of whether you receive a letter from the agency if you believe that you qualify for transitional priority use.
Issue 2. Outfitters whose permits are up for renewal may also find the agency delaying renewal due to lack of information on how to implement the directives or because the Forest Service is unable to complete the documentation.
Rangers are just now being trained on the new directives. The agency should issue a one year priority use permit if there is a delay in renewing existing priority use permits. Issuance of temporary use to priority use permittees is inappropriate because it will put you into a transitional priority use status and may require additional documentation to receive a long term permit.
Please call David Brown in the America Outdoors Association office if you are having problems with your permitting process. 800-524-4814.
Great Story on the Psychological Benefits in Getting Outdoors in Nature
Newsweek recently published a great story on the psychological benefits of spending time in nature. To read the article go to http://www.newsweek.com/id/184454
Montana House Passes Liability Statute
By a vote of 60 to 29 the House of Representatives passed H.R. 150, which shields providers of a sport or recreational opportunity from liability for injuries and damages caused by the inherent risks of a sport or recreational activity. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Economic Stimulus Deal Provides Investments in Science and Technology and Funding for Federal Agencies
The actual language of the bill between the House and Senate was released late Thursday, but Speaker Pelosi’s office released a summary of the bill earlier, which she said is intended to “transform the U.S. economy”. The Washington Post called the bill “a massive windfall for federal agencies”. Still, outfitters may see some benefits through funding for construction and rehabilitation of recreation facilities on federally-managed lands.
For small business, the package continues the expanded Section 179 deduction, which was nearly doubled in 2008 to $250,000 from $125,000. The deduction allows small businesses to deduct upfront the entire cost of equipment such as computers, furniture, vehicles and manufacturing machinery. The bill also extends bonus depreciation, which gives businesses of all sizes a more substantial first-year deduction than traditional depreciation rules have allowed.
According to allbusiness.com the SBA may get $20 billion in new lending authority for its 7(a) loan program and its 504 Loan program for hard assets like real estate. The bill will also provide funds for the SBA’s microloan program. But some small business experts say the agency is not staffed to handle this volume of loans since these programs were unpopular with the Bush Administration and lacked staffing and oversight. For a review of all SBA loan programs go to http://www.allbusiness.com/government/loans-small-business-association/208-1.html
Even as late as Friday morning some wrangling between Senate and House Democrats was reported, but it was not expected to impact the provisions for small business. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service are expected to get significant funding for capital improvement construction and maintenance. All federal agencies were expected to get $600 million to buy new autos. Look for an auction near you in the coming months to pickup used federal vehicles.
Battle Brewing Over Yampa River Water Rights
Local governments along the Yampa River, outfitters and environmentalists are lining up to fight a claim filed by Shell Oil for Yampa River water rights. Shell Oil intends to develop oil shale in the region and needs water from the Yampa to fill a reservoir associated with the energy development. Shell's application for a conditional water right, filed December 30th in Steamboat Springs, Colo., seeks to take 375 cubic feet per second of water from the river, about 8 percent of the average spring flow, and pump it into a new reservoir capable of holding 45,000 acre-feet of water. A study by a planning group found that the energy industry controls about 26% of the flow and 56% of the water volume in the basin. Another study yet to be released claims that oil shale development companies have 200 conditional claims for water rights in the Colorado and White River Basins. Another project proposed in 2007 by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District would divert 2,000 cfs from the Yampa to a 500,000 acre foot reservoir near Maybell. A pipeline from there would transfer the water to another reservoir near Fort Collins. NPS and the Dinosaur National Monument may be able to challenge the Shell Oil permit through their claim to “federal reserve water rights” if the withdrawal of water violates the purposes for which the reservation was established.