December 28th, 2006 06:48 EST
USDA Announces $385 Million in Funding for Schools, Roads
Final Year of Payments Under the Secure Rural Schools Act
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that more than $385 million in Forest Service revenue will be distributed to 41 states and Puerto Rico for improvements to public schools, roads and stewardship projects.
"This is the sixth and final year of payments as authorized under the Secure Rural Schools Act and Community Self Determination Act of 2000," said Johanns. "The Forest Service has distributed more than $2 billion under this legislation since 2001 to assist counties in maintaining and improving local schools and roads."
Since 1908, 25 percent of Forest Service revenues, such as those from timber sales, mineral resources and grazing fees, have been returned to states in which national forest lands are located. Because receipts from timber sales fluctuate, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 was developed to stabilize payments to counties. The funds have been used for schools and roads as well as to create employment opportunities to maintain current infrastructure and enhance forest ecosystems, improving land health and water quality. Authority for the Forest Service to make the payments expired at the end of fiscal year 2006.
The fiscal year 2006 payments are listed in the attached table. The payments do not reflect national grassland revenues, which are calculated on a calendar year basis and will be paid to counties in March. Oregon received the highest payment of more than $149 million; California received $66 million; and Washington received $42 million.
An additional provision of the act provides for an additional $32 million this year to be used by local county Resource Advisory Committees to fund projects to improve federal lands.
The Forest Service manages approximately 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. For more information, visit www.fs.fed.us.