On March 31, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) announced the release of $215 million in FY 2019 Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments to 742 eligible counties. These payments will ensure that students receive essential education services and rural communities have critical funding for infrastructure development, forest management and conservation projects, search and rescue missions and fire prevention programs. For detailed payment tables by county and state, please click here. The Bureau of Land Management has not yet distributed payments to the 18 counties in Oregon containing O&C lands.
The SRS program provides counties containing significant USFS lands with funding to recoup revenue lost from declining timber sales off federal forest lands beginning in the early 1990s. The program is set to expire at the end of FY 2020, after being extended as part of the two-part spending deal enacted on December 20, 2019. If not reauthorized for FY 2021 and beyond, the expiration of SRS will create dramatic budgetary shortfalls for over 700 rural counties and 4,000 school districts across the country.
NACo will continue to work with our congressional champions to enact a long-term funding solution for SRS to ensure counties can continue to provide essential services to our residents.