Recreation Residences are privately owned summer cabins, on National Forest land, authorized by special use permits that last 20 years. Permit Holders pay an annual fee for their permit. Some of these recreation residences date back to the early 1900’s and represent a time when Americans were being encouraged to enjoy the healthful benefits of a vacation in the National Forests. Because of their age and architecture, many of these cabins are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Currently the Custer Gallatin National Forest has 294 permitted recreation residences, which is the greatest number of all Northern Region National Forests. Nationally, there are over 14,000 permitted Recreation Residences on National Forest lands.
This webpage provides information for the Permit Holders, and anyone interested in issues regarding these special use permits.
Information for Permit Holders
NEW LAW PASSED December 2014. The Cabin Fee Act directs the Forest Service how to calculate annual permit fees.
Recreational Residence Permits
- Example of a Recreation Residence Special Use Permit
- Operations & Maintenance Plan-Bozeman and Yellowstone Ranger Districts
- Operations & Maintenance Plan-Hebgen Ranger Districts
- Operations & Maintenance Plan- Beartooth Ranger Districts
Recreation Residence Forms
- Recreation Residence Inspection Form
- Recreation Residence SELF INSPECTION form
- Recreation Residence - Request for Additional Improvements or Modifications to Permitted Improvements
- Holder-Initiated Revocation of Existing Recreation Residence Special Use permit, and Request for a Recreation Residence Special Use Permit
Reissuance Process (2007-2008)
Comments From Recreation Residence Special Use Permit Holders and FS Responses, regarding the Operation & Maintenance Plan and the FS Handbook Supplement
Reissuance Decision Memos
Press Release (7-9-2007) announced the start of the analysis for reissuance determination.
- Forest Service Directives (FS Handbook and Manual Direction
- Recreational Residence Historic Contexts for Eight National Forests in USDA-Region 1
Provides interesting information about the history, development, design and architectural characteristics of recreation residences unique to the Northern Region.
- A Guide to Maintaining the Historic Character of Your Forest Service Recreation Residence
- Cost Recovery Press Release
- Federal Register: Cost Recovery, February 21, 2006
Cost Recovery is legislation which requires Holders of Special Use Permits, who request specific administrative approvals, actions or analysis on their Recreation Residence Permits that would require more than 50 hours of Forest Service time to pay a fee. An example of this might be a request from a Permit Holder to alter or reconstruct their cabin that may be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, especially where in-depth consultation and documentation by the Forest Service with the State Historic Preservation Officer is required. Another example might be where a Permit Holder requests permission to build a septic drain field in a location where water quality and other resource concerns require more than 50 hours of environmental analysis to determine whether to grant approval.
- Standards for Vehicle Bridges that Access Recreation Residences (8-14-2008)
- Guidelines for Roads Maintained by Recreation Residence Permit Holders
- Hebgen Lake Shoreline Management Plan
- Family Trusts and Estate Planning for Recreation Residences
- Firewise - Information
- National Forest Homeowners
- Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks website contains information about boating safety, boating rules, algae blooms, fishing, aquatic nuisance species and other information pertinent for recreation residences near Hebgen Lake.
- Information on minimizing direct conflicts with grizzly bears: