Representative Derek Kilmer announced that he helped secure over $12.5 million to support Washington’s public schools, roads, and other municipal services through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program.
“For more than 100 years, the federal government has recognized the financial stresses facing rural communities – particularly areas with federal forests. That’s why I’ve continued to push for full funding of the Secure Rural Schools program, which provides federal support for rural communities – funding schools, law enforcement, and essential county services like public health programs,” said Rep. Kilmer. “I’m proud to have helped secure new federal funding for communities throughout our region.”
“The Secure Rural Schools program is one of many ways the Forest Service supports rural communities as a good neighbor,” said USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “This support is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to work hand-in-hand with community leaders and to provide vital economic relief to local communities.”
Beginning in 1908, the Secure Rural Schools program allowed the Forest Service to share 25% of its revenues from timber sales, mineral leases, livestock grazing, recreation fees, and other sources with counties in and around national forests. By the 1980s, largely because of diminished timber sales volume, Forest Service revenues from these sources began to decline.
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 replaced the revenue sharing model with a guaranteed level of payments, giving forest-dependent rural communities a more reliable set of funding, while protecting forest resources that provide clean water, recreation opportunities and other benefits. As a member of the Appropriations Committee’s Interior Subcommittee, Rep. Kilmer fought to ensure this program was reauthorized for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020. As the representative for the sixth district, Rep. Kilmer has consistently advocated for long-term reauthorization of the SRS program and fought for increased funding as a member of the Appropriations Committee.
Over the past 10 years, the Forest Service has distributed more than $2.3 billion through the Secure Rural Schools program. SRS payment amounts are determined by a number of factors set in the law, including acres of federal land within an eligible county, an income adjustment based on the per capita personal income for each county, and the 5% reduction in the overall payments each year.
For Grays Harb0r, this meant $243,259.95 in payments in 2020.
A breakdown of funding by state and county is available on the Forest Service website.
In addition to payments for schools and roads, the Secure Rural Schools program supports Firewise Communities programs, reimburses counties for emergency services on national forests, and funds development of community wildfire protection plans.