Rural Counties Unite
Sacramento, CA – The Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC) announced this week that 23 counties have joined forces in a statewide resolution drive urging Congress to immediately reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (SRS).
The U.S. Congress failed to vote on the measure in 2014 creating a lapse in funding to Mother Lode schools and roadways. Years ago, lawmakers passed SRS to offset revenue losses due to a declining timber industry on federal lands. The group says California’s rural communities have come to rely on SRS funding, which pumps more than $33 million annually statewide for schools and roads.
“SRS is a critical funding source for California’s forested counties,” said Lee Adams, RCRC Chair and Sierra County Supervisor. “Failure to either extend the program or make needed policy changes for the management of our forests is resulting in many school districts cutting vital education programs, and leaving counties with the inability to maintain a healthy county road system.”
The group has encouraged counties across the state to write Congress asking for an immediate extension of SRS. As previously reported, in January, the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution that encouraged a long-term reauthorization of SRS or the creation of a successor program.
SRS expired on September 30, 2013, resulting in a loss of funding in 2014 according to the group. The 23 rural California counties that have adopted individual resolutions so far this year include Alpine, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Inyo, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Mariposa, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, and Yuba. These counties represent more than 54 percent of California’s federally managed land, and more than $27 million in annual SRS funding.
Earlier this week in Congress, two Senators introduced a bipartisan bill to extend SRS.