Hubbard County is coming for your hunting cabin

In north-central Minnesota, Hubbard County is zeroing in on the unusual arrangement in which hunting cabin leases on tax-forfeited land have been handed down from generation to generation in exchange for a $300 a year lease fee and a property tax payment.

It’s a sweet deal for a few people and the county board is beginning to wonder if it’s fair, the Park Rapids Enterprise says.

During hunting season, six to 10 people stay in each of the 49 cabins.

“You’re talking a significant number of people utilizing those cabins and the surrounding land,” Hubbard County Land Commissioner Chip Lohmeier says. “Every one of those cabin leases has deer stands scattered across the countryside, where they’re hunting, and they tend to take over those areas. The question has been ‘Is that preemptive use of tax-forfeited lands?’ We’ve discussed it up and down, left and right every time we do a (county land) management plan.”

There’s no chance for anyone else to get a crack at the residential cabin leases because what family wants to give up a sweet deal? So they’re transferred.

In fact, a cabin lease has never come up for public auction in Hubbard County.

“It’s county land, and yet perpetually the same people are using the cabins over and over. On the flip side, they have paid the money to put the cabin up and they are keeping it up,” county commissioner Char Christenson said.

Seventy-three percent of the leases are held by someone outside the county. And, according to the board, some lease holders auction them off in private sales for up to $20,000.

“How can they auction off the rights to use public land?” Lohmeier asked.

The county appears to be thinking of increasing the lease fee — as Cass County did — to encourage people to drop them, and open up the cabins for someone else.