Secure Rural Schools Alternative?
Washington, DC -- As Congress looks at ways to cut the federal deficit, there is increasing uncertainty whether there will be a renewal of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Action.
Today the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee is hearing arguments about an alternative plan, known as the "Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act." Rather than simply allocate a $400 million subsidy, it calls for increased revenues to forested counties and schools by increasing the amount of timber removed annually from federal forested land.
Republican House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings delivered an opening statement at today's hearing. "Restoring active management of our national forests, as this legislation does, would ensure a stable, predictable revenue stream for counties and schools," he said. "Acting management would promote healthier forests, reduce the risk of wildfires, and decrease our reliance on foreign countries for timber and paper goods."
Hastings argued that overgrowth in the forest will either be removed by active management, or a large wildfire. The legislation will first go before lawmakers in the Republican House, and if approved, it will likely face a stiffer challenge in the U.S. Senate.
Tuolumne and Calaveras Counties annually rely on the Secure Rural Schools funding. It was initially approved several years ago to offset declining revenues that resulted from placing tighter restrictions on the timber industry.
Written by BJ Hansen