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Cabins coveted in Uinta Mountains

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

While considering whether cabins should continue to exist at Christmas Meadows in the Uinta Mountains the U.S. Forest Service is accepting feedback from citizens about the mountain neighborhood.

Along a one-mile stretch of road near the Mirror Lake Highway in Summit County sit 40 cabins built in the 1950s and ’60s. But the special use permits that allow these homes to exist on federal forest land expire in 2008.

"We’re going to reissue the (20-year) permits," said Earl O’Driscoll, a spokesman for the Wasatch-Cache National forest.

The U.S. Forest Service allowed the building of cabins to encourage Americans to visit national forests in the early 1900s. Now about 14,285 residences exist in 53 national forests.

When permits have expired cabins in other forests have been removed when they’ve impacted rivers and lakes, O’Driscoll said.

"We’re not going to have more," he said, adding that in 2006 the Forest Service established zoning guidelines for its mountain subdivisions, stating homes cannot exceed 1,500 square feet in size. "You can’t rent it out and you can’t live in it permanently This isn’t a place for them to store their equipment or whatever that they don’t want to keep at home."

The cabins were sanctioned by the previous two revisions of the management plan for the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, O’Driscoll said adding that those with permits own their homes but lease the ground from the federal government.

Once strictly summer homes, O’Driscoll said the owners are using their cabins more in the winter.

"There are people who ski into them," he said adding that cabins at Christmas Meadows have electricity and sit on roughly 26 acres at elevations of nearly 8,800 feet. "They’re pretty simple. As you come into the meadows and go to the campground, across the river there is a road that’s a mile and there are summer homes on both sides."

Comments about whether permits for the cabins at Christmas Meadows should be renewed should be sent by March 12 to the Evanston/Mountain View Ranger District at P.O. Box 1880, Evanston, Wyo., 82931. For more information contact the ranger district at (307) 789-3194.


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