May 15, 2019 10:45 a.m.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt has announced the issuance of $30.1 million among 18 counties in western Oregon as part of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act extension.
A department release said the funding will go directly to counties, supporting investments in education, infrastructure, public safety, health services, and other critical expenditures made by these jurisdictions.
Bernhardt said the money appropriated to these communities through the Secure Rural Schools Act, is “critical to their continued prosperity and the vibrancy of our public lands”. Bernhardt said the department is committed to “being a good federal partner and neighbor”. He said the program is “one way we help these local economies”.
Congressman Greg Walden said the announcement is “welcome news for Oregon counties that rely on this program”. Walden said he has worked with the last two Republican Speakers of the House to secure SRS funding for the schools and counties. Walden said he applauded the Trump administration for “prioritizing rural Oregon and promptly issuing these payments”. Walden said while he is pleased the checks are getting written, “what we really need is reform of forest management so we can reduce the size and severity of wildfires and produce good paying jobs and tax revenue in our forest counties”.
The BLM manages the SRS program in the O&C Lands, in concert with the U.S. Forest Service. Those lands lie in a checkerboard pattern through 18 counties of western Oregon. The lands contain more than 2.4 million acres of forests with a diversity of plant and animal species, recreation areas, mining claims, grazing lands, cultural and historical resources, scenic areas, wild and scenic rivers, and wilderness.
SRS payments are made to over 700 counties across the United States, including the 18 counties containing O&C Lands, according to a formula set by Congress.