Forest Service Distributes Final Rural Schools Payments

Forest Service Distributes Final Rural Schools Payments

Minnesota will receive $8.7 million under the federal program.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that more than $307 million is being distributed to 41 states and Puerto Rico for public schools and roads and specific county programs.

"The annual revenue sharing payments are part of the Department of Agriculture's long-standing commitment to rural communities, schools and American youth," said Vilsack. "Our century-long support of America's public schools and roads is one of many ways in which the Forest Service, as a good neighbor and partner, contributes to rural communities becoming self-sustaining and prosperous."

The 2011 payment to Minnesota is $8,775,741.

Since 1908, 25% of Forest Service revenues from timber sales, mineral leases, recreation, grazing and other sources have been shared with states and counties in which national forest lands are located.

In the 1980s, Forest Service revenues began to decline, largely as a result of changes in social values and diminished timber sales volume. The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 authorized enhanced and gradually declining payments to ease the transition to reduced federal revenues. Counties received more than $2.5 billion over seven years until the Act expired in September 2007.

In 2008, the Congress extended the program four more years, through 2011. Today's distribution marks final payments under the extended Act. The four years of payments will total $1.5 billion of support to rural schools and roads and $87 million paid to counties for wildfire preparedness and to reimburse counties for emergency services provided on national forests.

In addition to payments for schools and roads, the Secure Rural Schools Act supports Firewise Communities programs, reimburses counties for emergency services on national forests and funds development of community wildfire protection plans.

"These projects were reviewed and recommended by resource advisory committees made up of local residents working together to improve the environment and help provide jobs in rural communities," Vilsack said.

Since 2008, across the country, 118 resource advisory committees recommended 4,100 projects valued at more than $172 million in more than 300 counties. More information on the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act is on the web at www.fs.usda.gov/pts

Source: USDA
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