Judge Burns Orders Seizure and Destruction of Privately Owned Historic Cabin

Federal Judge Larry Burns ordered seizure and destruction of a historical landmark in the Cleveland National Forest (see case #10CV1307 LAB). Its destruction would be an outrage because it would eliminate one of the last original surviving examples of Americana representing a time when America was sowing the seeds of love for nature; and the belief that living in a symbiotic relationship with nature would nurture Americans to appreciate, and thus protect, forests and all the wildlife that live therein.  Cabins on public lands were President Teddy Roosevelt's legacy, his love for nature and desire that all Americans should have an opportunity to know and respect the forests thus assuring protection for posterity.  President Roosevelt's influence led Congress to the Term Permit Act of 1915, a descendant of the Organic Administration Act of 1897.  

The cabin and several outbuildings which Judge Burns ordered destroyed are historic landmarks dating back to the 1920's.  They were well preserved example (thanks to the efforts of the
pro se couple in restoring them) of the unique mountain area architectural style of the 1920's.  The buildings were a mail order, from Sears Roebuck, and the design used single wall construction techniques.  The cabin is also unique for San Diego history because it represents one of the last few remaining survivors of the 1950 Conejos fire that burnt 64,000 acres in East County San Diego.  The cabin laid several miles north of Pine Valley deep in the forest surrounded by an abundance of wildlife commonly seen like turkeys, foxes, mountain lions, coyotes, owls, woodpeckers, a multitude of birds of prey and blue jays; and unique trees like oaks, pine trees, Mexican cypress, and the beautiful and unique Manzanita.  

Judge Burns reason for ordering its destruction and subsequent destruction of native habitat and old growth forest?  No permit, cabin occupying public land in violation of statute!  However the reason why renewal of the permit was withheld was in dispute.  The U.S. Forest Service refused to renew the permit because they claimed non-compliance issues existed.  However the non-compliance issues are a matter of dispute.  Forest Service claimed certain facts and the pro se couple claimed others, as seen in the couples Bivens Action, case number 09cv1478, against the Forest Service.  Instead of allowing trial over the dispute Judge Burns denied the Bivens Action due to a defense of immunity.  At the same time judge Burns accepted case number 10cv1307 which was a duplicative case filed against the couple based on the same facts.  Instead of denying the filing of a duplicative case Burns accepted all facts presented by Forest Service in a summary judgment motion and then ruled the Forest Service has complete deference in administration of the permits.  This ruling means permit holders have no right to dispute non-compliance allegations in court even if their constitutional rights were violated by a federal agency in refusing to renew a permit.
Pictures of Cabin
Return to Factual Story of Judicial Corruption
Return to Judge Larry Burns Page

Term Permit For Cabins History

Historian James D. Newland made a report in 1995 about the historical relevance of the Term Permit cabins in the Cleveland National Forest titled "Historic Resources Survey and Evaluation Report: Recreation Residences: Descanso District".  It was prepared at the request of the Cleveland National Forest USDA-Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.

The voluminous report traces the history of the cabins and documents changes in ownerships.  It also reveals how the Forest Service rebelled against Congress due to dislike for the program.  Forest Service took the notion they were not created to be landlords for tenants on public land.  They disliked the type of relationship it created with the public plus the increased contact with public it forced upon them.  Subsequently in the 1950’s they refused to assign any more land for the program and actively sought to eliminate as many cabins they could from the 1960's onward.

What had started as a program designed to 'entice citizens' to build a residence in national forests, help citizens become aware of the value of nature and be 'good' stewards of the land, later became a target of active disdain by the Forest Service.  Forest Service eventually tried to eliminate the program and destroy as many residences they could through various unethical methods, i.e. preventing rebuild after fire or flood, or claiming public good required seizures of cabins in certain forest areas. 

While this failed to remove their unwanted burden Forest Service decided to gain as much money as they could from the permit holders.  Permit fees went from several hundred dollars a year to $30,000 in some cases.  Forest Service even made public claims that residence owners were an elite crowd of 'rich people' enjoying a 'privilege' others could not in an apparent attempt to garner public support for their seizures and fee raises.

Of interest is how the program was corrupted by the Forest Service.  As with many well intentioned government programs eventually power corrupts those who administer themThe Term Permit program was no exception.  Forest Service was allowed by congress to make rules and regulations for administration of the program.  It took only a short time before such absolute power was abused and used for personal profit and rewards to cronies.

Certain individuals were allowed, and in some cases encouraged, to violate rules, but others who emulated such without paying tribute to corrupted individuals were punished.  In other instances should a Forest Service employee take a personal disliking against a permit holder they were punished by threats to not renew permit, usually based on trumped-up non compliance allegations or other similar abuse of authority.

Another example of abuse is the issue of full time residencies.  The cabins were not intended to be primary residences however exceptions to this rule were made for cronies and in many cases Forest Service employees themselves.  Some employees even raised families in the cabins.

It is not too hard to surmise that the apparent corruption in this system is backed by money bribes and payments for favors, with the money flowing into the hands of certain Forest Service officials and other federal government officials!