- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BUSHKILL, Pa. (AP) - Often empty, rustic, little cabins nestled between the tall trees of the Delaware State Forest are most active now, during hunting season.

The Delaware State Forest in Monroe and Pike counties has 737 cabins, the most of any in a state forest in Pennsylvania. Of those, more than 400 are in Porter Township.

The historic state forest campsite lease program, which dates back to the 1900s, allows Pennsylvania residents to lease campsites for $200 a year, and build cabins within certain restrictions. The state owns the land, the renter owns the buildings.

Money raised by the leases goes into the state’s general fund budget, not directly to the DCNR.

In total, Pennsylvania has just under 4,000 of these leases. DCNR stopped leasing new campsites in 1970, but existing leases are still renewed in 10-year increments.

“Some are rustic, some more refined,” said District Forester Tim Dugan of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, which oversees the lease program for the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Campsites are about one quarter of an acre. The footprint for a cabin must be 1,000 square feet, and there are restrictions on the colors cabins may be painted.

“Because we are landowner, we instill certain requirements,” Dugan said. “Our job as caretakers of the forest is to maintain the aesthetic of the forest. That is why we don’t promote painting cabins hot pink - to maintain standards and a rural aesthetic.”

A forester inspects cabins a minimum of every three years. If a cabin falls into disrepair, the owner could lose his land lease. The forester makes sure the property has the correct identification posted, and that there are no new changes.

“We don’t allow garages, for example. They are allowed to have one outbuilding, typically a shed, and a latrine,” Dugan said.

The cabins are for recreation only and not to be used as full-time homes.

Some have electricity, others use generators. Some have running water.

Many campsite leases have been passed down from parent to child to grandchild. Some families have years of memories at the cabin.

“They have an emotional attachment to the place. It is part of the family history,” Dugan said. “The public thinks it is hard to get a lease, but in reality, there are a number of leases for sale.”

Jay and Vicky Robinson of Valley Forge have owned a land lease cabin off Bushkill Falls Road in Lehman Township for five years.

“We are lucky because we have running water,” Jay Robinson said. A pipe catches water from the cabin roof and sends it to a cistern. Inside, there are a flushing toilet and tiny shower.

The Robinsons and their 13-year-old daughter, Jill, go to their cabin during hunting season and every other weekend the rest of the year, and often they bring friends.

Their cabin was built in the 1950s and has had some improvements. It is heated by a wood burning stove. They have satellite television but no Internet.

The women in the Robinson party usually sit around a campfire and talk while the men are out hunting.

“I love it here just as much as the men,” Jill Robinson said while preparing a stromboli for dinner in her tiny cabin kitchen.

They had just unloaded some items from the car, the fire was roaring, and the family, plus two guests and two small dogs, were settling into the hunting season in their little slice of heaven in the forest.

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Online:

https://bit.ly/1sFt6GP

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Information from: Pocono Record, https://www.poconorecord.com/


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