WASHINGTON, D.C., — Representatives Jeff Denham and Tom McClintock issued a joint statement supporting the Federal Forest County Revenue, Schools And Jobs Act of 2012.
The bill creates a County, Schools and Revenue Trust fund for rural counties that depended on the recently expired Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. If passed, an Annual Revenue Requirement for each National Forest System unit, will be based on the average of gross receipts from 1980-2000. 65% of the revenue will be put into the Trust and 35% directed to the federal Treasury.
Denham and McClintock’s statement says, “This bill is a welcome change that forces federal bureaucracies to wisely steward federal lands, rather than continuing to subject them to the same benign neglect that robbed the rural West of its prosperity. Relieving the high unemployment and ensuring the prosperity of rural communities is imperative in today’s economic climate. This legislation allows for common sense management of our public lands and the creation of much-needed jobs.”
The Forest Service will have the authority to carry out “Trust Projects” which may include timber sales; grazing permits; special permits involving land use, minerals, power, or recreation; and wildfire abatement projects. Public comment and environmental reports will be required for each project.
According to the House Natural Resources Committee, “The bill also authorizes a five year extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program (compensates local governments for lost property tax revenues on non-taxable federally owned land.) and modifies the cabin fee formula to make it more predictable and affordable for families who own cabins in our National Forests.”
It is unknown if the Act has enough votes to pass in the House or if it will pass in the Senate after that. Many environmental groups are opposed to the bill, saying that the revenue targets are unreasonable and fear that it will significantly increase logging and environmentally damaging activity on federal forest land.
As reported here yesterday, Tuolumne County Schools Superintendent Joe Silva is in Support of the bill.