This week the U.S. House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1526, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act. NACo supports this legislation, and county officials should urge their House members to vote yes on H.R. 1526.
This landmark legislation would restore critical funding for counties by extending the Secure Rural Schools program, renew the federal government's commitment to manage federal forests for the benefit of counties impacted by federal forestland, improve forest health, and help prevent catastrophic wildfires.
Specifically, H.R. 1526 would:
- reestablish the priority of actively managing our forests and promotes responsible timber production on Forest Service commercial timber land
- improve forest health and prevent catastrophic wildfires by allowing significant state and local involvement
- improve forest management by establishing Good Neighbor Authority - which allows state and federal authorities to work together on fire mitigation efforts even when project areas cross ownership boundaries, and
- allow for a short-term extension of Secure Rural Schools payments to rural counties and schools.
The expiration of the Secure Rural Schools program in 2012 would create dramatic budgetary shortfalls if Congress fails to renew the longstanding federal obligation to county governments. The enactment of a modern revenue sharing program, as included in H.R. 1526, to allocate revenues generated from the management of designated federal lands to forest counties and schools would ensure that students receive essential education services and that rural communities have funding for roads, conservation projects, search and rescue missions, and fire prevention programs. Reach out to your representatives in the House and urge them to vote yes on H.R. 1526!
To view NACo's fact sheet on the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, click here.
To view the full text of H.R. 1526, click here.
If you have questions or need assistance, contact NACo Associate Legislative Director Ryan Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.942.4207