supports Labrador's forest plan
Idaho County Commissioner Skip Brandt provided testimony last week to the US House Natural Resources Committee in strong support of Idaho Representative Raul Labrador’s Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act.
Labrador’s legislation uthorizes pilot projects for selected national forest lands to be managed in trust to benefit rural communities.
“We need to face facts.” said Brandt. “The federal government is deeply in debt but still must meet its obligations to local communities where they own most of the land.”
More than 83% of Idaho County is in federal ownership and is not taxable by local government. Instead, the federal government makes direct payments to counties under the Secure Rural Schools Act (SRS) which is expiring in 2013. The SRS payments are essential to sustaining those county services.
Labrador’s bill calls for establishing working forest trusts which generate revenues for local government in lieu of payments from the US Treasury.
“I am excited to try something besides standing around with our hand out for a Federal check” said Brandt.
Commissioner Brandt also serves on the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, a broad multi-stakeholder group formed to gain agreement on federal forest management opportunities in north central Idaho.
“The smoke is getting thicker and thicker every summer. It is time to find a real long term solution for the environment and the financial stability of Forested Rural Counties.” said Brandt.