CONGRESS EXTENDS SECURE RURAL SCHOOLS PAYMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congress last evening approved a one-year extension to the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. The program provides a dedicated funding stream for local municipalities and school districts dependent on forest timber receipts that have been unable to rely on consistent and sustainable payments due the continued controversy over timber sales in National Forests.
“I will continue to push for a long-term extension to Secure Rural Schools,” said Senator Murkowski. “In the meantime, this one-year extension will provide schools and communities the revenue they desperately need.”
In 1908, Congress enacted legislation providing that 25 percent of Forest Service proceeds from National Forest lands would be shared with counties adjacent to the National Forests. By 2000, it became apparent that the amount of these 25 percent payments fluctuated widely and were impaired by controversy and litigation over timber sales in the National Forests. Congress and the Clinton Administration enacted the Secure Rural Schools Act to provide a safety net for forest schools and communities.
The Secure Rural Schools Act set aside about $1.6 billion in mandatory spending for Fiscal Years 2000 - 2006. During that period each State received annual “timber payments” equivalent to the average of the three highest payments it received from 1986-1999. Alaska receives about $9.3 million annually under this formula.
The Secure Rural Schools Act expired on September 30, 2006. If it had not been extended before the start of the 2007-2008 school year, Alaskan communities would have received timber payments under the previous 25 percent rule, and those payments would have been about 85 percent lower than what Alaska receives under the Secure Rural Schools Act.