Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today announced that more than $380 million will be distributed to 41 states and Puerto Rico for improvements to public schools and roads.
"This funding helps to strengthen the communities that surround national forest lands and provides the resources to enhance environmental stewardship within those communities," said Johanns. "The Secure Rural Schools Act funding has helped to create federal/local partnerships and foster a spirit of cooperation."
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 fluctuated over time, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 was developed to stabilize payments to counties. These funds continue to provide funding for schools and roads as well as to create employment opportunities to maintain current infrastructure and implement stewardship objectives that enhance forest ecosystems and restore and improve land health and water quality.
Oregon received the largest payment, which was more than $146 million; California received $64.6 million; and Washington received $41.8 million.
The fiscal year 2005 payments are listed in the attached table. However, the payments do not reflect national grassland revenues, which are calculated on a calendar year basis and will be paid to counties in March.
Title III also authorizes counties to use the funds for specific purposes, including: search, rescue, and emergency services on federal lands; community service work camps; conservation and recreation easements; forestry related after-school activities; and fire prevention and planning.
An additional provision of the Act (Title II) provides for an additional $33.6 million to national forests for local county resource advisory committees to fund stewardship projects to improve federal lands.
The Forest Service manages approximately 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. For more information, visit http://www.fs.fed.us.