Over the past couple months I've been constructing a list of questions to ask during my interview with the Forest Service. Some of my own, some that have come up during interviews with leaseholders. I know the answers to some of the questions on my list but I want to get the answers on camera, first hand from the Supervisor. I could write it into the script of the documentary's voice over but I believe the answers are best right from the source. Most of the questions I do not know the answers to and neither do a lot of the leaseholders I've talked to. Or somewhere down the tin can telephone string, the facts were construed and everyone was told something different.
Being extremely close to this film I may have overlooked simple questions that someone who has no idea about the situation may have. If there is a question I've overlooked or a question you have please leave a comment below.
Here are my questions so far for the current Ottawa National Forest Supervisor:
Can you give me the history of these leased camps and how they came to be located on Ottawa National Forest land?
When and why do these camps have to be removed?
Approximately how much do the leaseholders pay in lease fees and taxes and where does this money go?
How many leased camps are still located in the Ottawa?
Are all the leased camps located along the Ontonagon river corridors? On land that was previously owned by UPPCO?
When did the National Forest Service acquire the land around the Ontonagon Rivers?
Was this before or after the Wild and Scenic designation of the Ontonagon Rivers?
Did the designation of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act on the Ontonagon Rivers have anything to do with the Forest Service pursuing the land around the rivers?
I was told that as a national policy the Forest Service doesn’t purchase land with buildings or facilities on it. How was it that the Forest Service was able to purchase this land with 155 cabins on it? Does that have anything to do with the camps having to be removed?
Does the “National Wild and Scenic” designation of the Ontonagon Rivers have anything to do with the camp leases not being extended or the camps having to be removed?
If the land around the rivers was still owned by UPPCO, would the camp leaseholders still be able to keep their camps in their current locations under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act?
How and when did the Forest Service notify the camp leaseholders of the final lease terms?
Did any camp leaseholders contact the Forest Service in an attempt to lengthen the lease terms or find another way to keep their camps in their current locations? In recent years?
Does the National Forest Service lease land in any other parts of the country or is this a unique case?
What about Recreational Residences? I’ve read about them in other National Forests out west but there is no information about them on the Ottawa National Forest website. Why doesn’t the Ottawa National Forest issue Recreational Residence permits? Or do they?
Would this be a possibility for these camps to be put under a Recreational Residence permit once the leases expire?
Have any of the camp leaseholders asked about Recreational Residence permits?
I’ve been told that it is up to Congress to pass some type of legislation to keep the camps where they are. If there is already a Recreational Residence permit policy in place, wouldn’t it be relatively easy to transfer the leases to permits?
I was told that the non-renewal of leases affects more than just the camps along the river corridors. Are there other camps in the Ottawa National Forest other than the “UPPCO camps” that have to be removed? If so, how were these camps built in the first place if the Forest Service has no leasing authority?
Do you think there is any way the Forest Service and leaseholders can work together to find a way to keep the camps in their current locations?
Is it too late to change the lease date or find a way to allow the camp leaseholders to continue keeping their camps in the Ottawa?
Does the Forest Service see the camps as any benefit to the Ottawa and Ontonagon Rivers and the surrounding areas? Or does the Forest Service view them as a detriment?
Has the Forest Service had any problems with the camp leaseholders not following rules, destroying the environment or not keeping the area clean and orderly?
Since the passage of the Michigan Wild & Scenic Rivers Act and the Forest Service purchase of the land around the Ontonagon Rivers, has anything changed on these corridors? Improvements made?
Once the camps are removed, will the Forest Service leave the trails open that once led to the camps or does the Forest Service plan to block them?
The camp leaseholders are currently maintaining the designated trails into their camps. Once they are removed do you feel the rest of the public will lose access to wilder sections of the rivers?