Washington, DC…On Thursday, the United States Senate approved H.R. 527, the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013, by a vote of 97-2. As it relates to counties, H.R. 527 includes a provision to extend the Secure Rural Schools & Community Self-Determination (SRS) Act funding for one year.
In California, federal SRS payments are made to the state and then forwarded primarily to schools and counties. Counties use these funds for their county road program. The Secure Rural Schools program, first enacted in 2000, allows forest counties (and public schools within those counties) to receive payments based on pre-2000 levels of timber harvesting activity on federal lands. Since 2006, the program has been reauthorized several times, including one reauthorization made in June of 2012 when Congress granted a one-year extension. Many of California’s forested counties have come to rely on federal SRS funding as timber harvesting practices on federal forest lands have been dramatically reduced since the early 1990’s, and no other plan has been put in place to reform the management of federal forest lands.
While the Senate and House of Representatives may differ in their legislative approach to reforming the manner in which federally-owned forests are managed (see Barbed Wire article below), RCRC will continue to urge Congress to move an extension of SRS to the President’s desk. See RCRC’s letter to California’s House delegation urging approval of H.R. 527, which can be accessed here.
For additional information, please contact RCRC Senior Legislative Advocate Paul A. Smith at 916.447.4806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.