Secure Rural Schools and Roads Funding
United States Senate Passes Amendment to Surface Transportation Bill Reauthorizing Secure Rural Schools Act for One Year
|According to the National Forest Counties and
Schools Coalition:The National Forest System was formed in 1905 from the Forest
Reserves, which were established between 1891 and 1905 by presidential proclamation.
During that time, 153 million acres of forestlands were set aside in Forest Reserves and
removed from future settlement and economic development. This imposed great hardships on
those counties that were in and adjacent to these new reserves. In many cases, 65 to 90
percent of the land in those counties was sequestered in the new forest reserves, leaving
little land for settlement, economic development and diminishing the potential tax base to
support essential community infrastructure such as roads and schools. There was
considerable public opposition in the forest counties to establishing these reserves.
In 1908, in response to the mounting opposition to the reserves in the West, Congress passed a bill which created a revenue sharing mechanism to offset for forest counties the effects of removing these lands from economic development. The 1908 Act specified that 25% of all revenues generated from the multiple-use management of our National Forests would be shared with the counties to support public roads and public schools. People in our forest counties refer to this as the "Contract with the People of Rural Counties" which was part of the foundation for establishing our National Forest System. This mitigation mechanism was and continues to be a part of the foundation of our National Forest System.
It was the intent of Congress in establishing our National Forests, that they would be managed in a sustained multiple-use manner in perpetuity, and that they would provide revenues for local counties and the federal treasury in perpetuity as well. And, from 1908 until about 1986, this revenue sharing mechanism worked extremely well. However, from 1986 to the present, we have, as a result of environmental activism, lawsuits, and legal challenges reduced our active multiple-use management of the National Forests and revenues have declined precipitously. Most counties have seen a decline of over 90% in actual revenues generated on our National Forests, largely as a result of the decline in all forms of timber harvesting, grazing, and minerals extraction.
Idaho Community Forest Trust Proposal - counties to transition away from uncertain federal payments under the SRS to county management of certain federal forest lands. The proposal is for Community Forests to be designated from federal forest lands within Idaho and managed in trust by the state for the benefit of county governments and local communities. Proceeds from the management of these lands would then go to counties which are currently receiving SRS funding in lieu of transfer payments from the federal treasury; Community Forest Trust proposed;