Press Releases

Jaime Herrera Beutler Presses U.S. Forest Service to Release Full Secure Rural Schools Payment to Rural Counties

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Washington, D.C., May 9, 2019 | comments
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler urged the U.S. Forest Service today to release a portion of Secure Rural Schools funding to rural counties that had been previously withheld.
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U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler urged the U.S. Forest Service today to release a portion of Secure Rural Schools funding to rural counties that had been previously withheld.

The full text of her letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen follows and a PDF version is available here.

I am writing to express concern for my rural counties with regards to the sequestration of a portion of the payments available under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS program).

I understand that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) withheld $14 million from the previously reauthorized SRS program, amounting to 6.2 percent of the total. However, I urgently request USFS to review this reduction and reevaluate whether it has any authority by which it may restore the full payment.   

As you know, withholding a portion of these payments will have detrimental effects on the counties that have significant portions of their land under federal ownership. These counties have been forced to depend on SRS payments due to restrictions on generating income from the surrounding national forests and public lands. Rural counties such as Skamania located within the district I represent are forced to make difficult budgetary choices involving school operations, basic law enforcement functions, and essential infrastructure maintenance. The consequences of those choices become exponentially more severe with any payment reduction.

While I will continue to actively work for a future in which these rural counties are allowed to produce revenue from the land and no longer need the SRS program, that’s not the current reality and this money is a necessary lifeline. I therefore implore USFS to reconsider this decision, and review every possible option to immediately release the SRS payments in full.

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