I think everyone that has a camp knows that feeling. I'm going to camp on Saturday for the night. I can't wait. I'm stepping away from my phone, email, Facebook and just going to relax. If anyone wants to visit they are more than welcome!
Yesterday Justin and I took U.S. Senator Gary Peters' U.P. Regional Director Elise Matz on a camp tour. We visited the Bluff Creek Camp, Adams Camp, Altoon's Alehouse, Yellow Dog Hunt Camp and the Rinne Camp. Camps that are accessible by truck although it was a beautiful day and could have taken her out on ATV. You never know what the weather will be.
Elise was very interested and asked a bunch of questions and we discussed ways of allowing these camps to remain, what hurdles we have encountered and future hurdles. She will submit a report to Senator Peters office in D.C. and I hope that they will take further action.
Someone emailed me and said "you might consider getting historic status placed on the buildings and see if that changes the FS decision, but it might only prevent them being taken down. Talk to the state office in charge of historic preservation." Elise thought that was a good idea and we will look further into that. I feel there is both historic and cultural value to these camps.
In discussing the option of Recreational Residences, if the U.S.F.S succumbs to grandfathering them into this program, Elise asked if leaseholders would be willing to pay the annual permit fee which I think is now up to $1500 per year. I believe many would and I asked my Dad last night and he said he would pay that much to keep Camp Woodtick.
Elise also said she would ask around the community if the people in the area support these camps and to find out if there are any people that believe the camps should be removed (that haven't had the courage to voice their opinions to their neighbors). Peters office wants to make sure before they move forward that the majority of the people in our communities are in favor of leaving these camps in the forest. I have not had anyone tell me they disagree with my push to save these camps, however I'm sure there are some that do. If you have time, please write to Elise and our other lawmakers to tell them that you support leaving the camps in the Ottawa and why. I think this is especially important for local businesses to voice their opinion as these camps help our local economy. I've added a list of emails to my CONTACTS page. Also signing the petition shows how many support the camps.
What happens after January 1, 2017 if we cannot change this? Some leaseholders are under the impression if they do not remove their camps and other buildings that they will be fined by the U.S.F.S for the removal of them. There is nothing in place to fine anyone for not removing the camp. When I talked to Linda Jackson earlier this year she said they are "encouraging" people to remove their camps. So they don't have to. If they do, they plan to burn them down.
The 25 year lease that was signed in 1992 with UPPCO states that "Upon the termination of this Lease, whether by expiration of the term or for any other reason whatsoever, the LESSEE shall have the right for the period of 90 days after said termination, unless extended in writing, to remove from the aforesaid premises any buildings or structures erected or maintained thereon, and title to all such buildings or structures remaining upon the aforesaid premises after the expiration of such period of 90 days shall thereafter vest in and become the property of the LESSOR, its successors and assigns, without specific conveyance thereof."
Nothing in the lease says that the LESSEE has to remove the structures and return the area to its natural state. If you cannot remove your camp due to physical limitations or because it's so remote and overgrown around it, an option is to remove what you want and leave the structure.
There is always so much hearsay and someone told someone this and someone told someone else that. When I first started researching, I was confused and a lot didn't make sense. I hope to get everyone on the same page. Therefore I made a new Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/Save-Our-Camps-426275210903140/
I will also keep this page updated with information and feel free to post your own comments and share any ideas and insights you may have!
And if you have the opportunity to show others your camp, whether they be lawmakers or someone curious about our situation, I encourage you to do so. Seeing firsthand how remote and rustic they are, how they create access to the rivers and woods rather than impede access, helps people understand why they are so important to us.