Thursday, 02 February 2023

Rural schools nationwide to receive $389 Million in funding

WASHINGTON, D.C. Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced in late December that more than $389 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 seventh and final year of payments as authorized under the Secure Rural Schools Act and Community Self Determination Act of 2000, as extended by PL 110-28 for one year,” said Conner. “The Forest Service has distributed more than $2.5 billion dollars 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.


Due to the fluctuation of receipts from timber sales, 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 2007.


Lake County and its schools also have received the funds, as Lake County News has reported. Lake County's most recent payment payment from the law was roughly $1 million, which was split between the county's road department and local schools, with Upper Lake's high school and elementary school receiving a total of nearly $250,000.


The USDA reported that fiscal year 2007 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 $153 million; California received $66 million; and Washington received $42 million.


States may see a minor drop in their 2007 payment due to two limiting factors that were included in the one year extension in Public Law 110-28, which limited the amount of collections and the amount of money that could be requested from the General Fund at Treasury for the Payments under Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act.


An additional provision of the act provides for an additional $26 million this year to be used by local county Resource Advisory Committees to fund projects to improve federal lands.


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