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HELENA - The U.S. Forest Service plans only modest increases this year in the cost of leases for agency land occupied by private cabins.

That's the message from Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey to Montana Democrat Jon Tester and several of his U.S. Senate colleagues.

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The lease rates became an issue as some cabin owners in Montana and elsewhere faced major increases tied to reappraisal of Forest Service property. In challenging the increases, cabin owners said a 2000 measure passed by Congress should have prevented steep increases, but missed the mark.

Tester and colleagues asked Rey to suspend or delay higher fees. Rey says that for this year, as Congress re-examines the 2000 law, increases will be tied to inflation.

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