attends NaCo Public Lands committee meetings
A nationwide effort is underway to address the Federal Government’s contract with rural counties for revenue for schools and roads. Rural county revenue opportunities for roads and schools come from timber harvest or federal budget appropriations.
Idaho County Commissioner, Jim Rehder, attended the National Association of Counties (NaCo) Public Lands committee meetings held in Reno, Nevada July16-18. During these meetings, ongoing efforts for federal forest land funding for schools and roads was the primary concern. Commissioner Rehder serves on the NaCo public lands committee which, in coordination with the National Forest Counties and Schools Coalition (NFCSC), supports the “Partnership for Rural America” (http://www.partnershipforruralamerica.org) for reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS--formerly known as Craig/Wyden) funding.
In 1908, Congress approved a revenue sharing plan (25% of all timber revenues from National Forests) to return lost tax revenue to counties with forested public lands. The law worked for over 75 years until national policies and court rulings substantially reduced revenue from our national forests. In a response to the changes in national timber harvest policy, the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 became law. The act was extended in 2007 and a four year re-authorization occurred in 2008.
This SRS reauthorization seeks to have the funding measure in the Federal budget by October. In mid July, a bi-partisan group of US Senators (29) and US Representatives (69) sent letters to the President requesting SRS funding be a part of the 2011 budget. All four of Idaho’s Congressional Delegates signed the letter and are fully engaged. A quote from the Senate support letter states, “Failure to extend the SRSCA in 2011 would have a devastating impact on the economies of over 780 of our most rural and most economically depressed counties and school districts across the nation. In these counties, unemployment is higher than in other regions of the country with the rates approaching those experienced in the Great Depression.” Commissioner Rehder has taken the lead role on this issue to represent the interests of Idaho County which contains more than 4.5 million acres (85% of the county) in public lands.
Idaho has more than 33 million acres of the 193 million acres of forested public lands in the USA. “The federal government must maintain their contract with rural forested counties like Idaho County, to replace lost tax revenues for rural roads and schools. This is a priority for me,” stated Rehder.
Idaho County is the 25th largest county in the nation and the 4th highest recipient of SRS funding. The SRS Act expires September 30, 2011.