News Release

USDA Forest Service Accepting Public Comments On Potential List Of Eligible Tracts Of Land For Sale

Washington
February 28, 2006 -

U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today announced the start of a public comment period on a list of forest lands that would be available for sale as a proposal to provide funding to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (SRS).

The list of available forest lands, published in today’s Federal Register, comprises 304,370 acres of land within the 193-million-acre National Forest System. This represents less than 0.2 of one percent of all Forest Service managed land. All of the parcels are considered isolated or inefficient to manage due to their location or other characteristics. Detailed maps of each parcel can now be found on the Forest Service website (www.fs.fed.us).

The Forest Service will include in its proposal the opportunity for local and state government agencies and nonprofit land trust organizations the first right to buy these parcels at market value.

Comments on the proposed list must be received by March 30 and may be sent by e-mail to SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us. Written comments may be sent to: USDA Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop 1124, Washington, DC, 20250-0003. Send faxed comments to (202) 205-1604.

The President’s fiscal year 2007 budget includes a legislative proposal to reauthorize SRS for an additional five years and to allow the Forest Service to sell approximately 200,000 to 300,000 acres. The money received from the sales (up to $800 million) would provide funding to extend the SRS, which expires on Sept. 30, 2006.

To date, states have received a total of approximately $1.9 billion ($2.5 billion including Bureau of Land Management payments) through the SRS legislation.