Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has announced that payments totaling $308 million will be provided to states under the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program between now and the end of 2012.
On June 29, 2012, Congress passed a one-year reauthorization of the SRS program (H.R. 4348), which was signed into law on July 2, 2012.
“The Forest Service has announced that payments totaling $308 million will be provided to counties through Secure Rural Schools between now and the end of the year,” said U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson, Chairman of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation, Energy & Forestry. “For counties choosing to receive payments, these resources will become available beginning in December and paid out through the end of 2012.”
Under the Weeks Act of 1911, counties located in national forests are entitled 25 percent of the total revenues collected through timber sales in the local national forests. In 2000, as a result of a significant decrease in timber harvesting on national forest lands during the 1990s, Congress created the SRS program to help compensate these counties for this loss in revenue.
Under the SRS program, counties have the option to receive payments based on historic receipts or the traditional 25 percent option, which is based on current receipts. The receipts are derived from timber sales, grazing, minerals, recreation, and other land use fees.
“The Secure Rural Schools reauthorization that passed Congress in June requires that states inform the Forest Service as to how they plan to allocate their share of these payments,” said Rep. Thompson. “Counties will soon be receiving letters from the Forest Service advising them of this requirement, including the September 30th deadline for making this determination.”