This posting is from the Mt Hood National Forest Portal Site

Cabin owners tell us they like owning a recreation cabin on National Forest System lands because of the scenic setting, the rich history and sense of tradition, and because they appreciate the standards and regulations regarding the use and maintenance of the cabins and lots.  Will a recreation cabin on National Forest System lands be the right fit for you?  The following information should give you a good idea of the nuances of recreation cabin ownership.  Please also contact the Zigzag Ranger District for additional information.
Recreation cabin owners own only the improvements situated on the land.  The land itself belongs to the United States and is managed by the Forest Service.  The Forest Service issues Special Use Permits to authorize cabin owners to maintain and use their recreation cabin on National Forest System lands.  It is important to understand the terms and conditions of the Special-Use Permit before making a commitment to becoming an owner of a Recreation Residence on National Forest System lands.

Purchasing a cabin and obtaining a Special-Use Permit

Cabin sale transactions are handled through real estate agents or are done by the owners themselves.  The Forest Service is not involved in the actual sale of the cabins, and does not maintain a list of cabins for sale. 
The Forest Service will conduct a presale inspection when a cabin goes up for sale.  The owner must bring the cabin and lot into compliance with the permit terms and conditions before a permit will be issued to a new owner.  Certain compliance items may be transferred to a new owner through a Transfer Maintenance Agreement (TMA).  The TMA will list due dates for transferred items and the new owner is bound to complete those items as a condition of their permit.  In some cases a new permit will not be issued until non-compliant conditions are remedied at the cabin or on the lot
A Forest Service representative will meet with new cabin owners before a permit is issued to discuss the details of the Special-Use Permit and answer new owner questions, and both the new owner and the Zigzag District Ranger then sign the paperwork to make the permit official.


Please read the sample Special-Use Permit in order to understand the terms and conditions that apply to Recreation Residence owners. These documents, and other information are available on the web at .
Some of the important conditions included in Recreation Cabin Permits are as follows:
1. All modifications to the cabin or lot, including but not limited to changes to roofs, siding, windows, doors, decks and porches and outbuildings, including paint color must be authorized in writing by the Forest Service before implementation.  The authorization process takes from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending upon the proposed alteration and the workload of Forest Service personnel.
If your cabin has historic status, or is located in an historic tract, there may be tighter restrictions on the type of modifications that can be allowed, and the time frame for their approval may be longer.  
2. The Special-Use Permit allows use of the recreation cabin for recreation only.  The cabins may not be used for one’s primary place of residence.  Commercial use of or conducting business from a Recreation Residence is prohibited.
3. The cabins must be used at least 15 days per year.
4. The annual permit fee is equivalent to 5% of the base value of the lot.  The value of the cabin structure does not factor into annual permit fees.  Fees are billed December for the following year.
5. The area covered by the Special-Use Permit, including the improvements, must be maintained in good repair.  Improvements are inspected periodically to insure compliance with the terms of the Special-Use Permit.  The Self-Inspection form posted on the website explains the details of items that are inspected through this process.
6. No soil, tree or vegetation shall be removed without permission from the Forest Service. 
Historic Cabins and Historic Tracts
The Still Creek, Mile Bridge and Zigzag Ski Club tracts have all been determined to be eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.  There are also some cabins in other tracts that have historic status in their own right.  These tracts and cabins retain features from as far back as the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s that make them very rich representations of this area’s remarkable past.
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966 requires the Forest Service to protect and enhance the qualities that qualify historic properties for listing on the National Register.  For these cabins, modifications must meet the general guidelines for residences, and also must be done in a manner that does not adversely affect the historic integrity of the cabin or tract.  Zigzag Ranger District staff work with cabin owners to achieve this outcome whenever possible.  The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) must also concur with decisions on alterations to these historic properties.  Cabin owners should know that the timeline for approval of alterations for cabins that are in historic tracts, or are historic by their own right can take up to two months.
Looking for the perfect piece of Mt Hood Real Estate in Welches, Government Camp, Brightwood or Rhododendron? Also, check out the link for Forest Service Leased Land Cabins