Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, February 04, 2005

FOREST COUNTIES BILL INTRODUCED

Legislation will stabilize forest receipt payments, reauthorize local RACs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives announced today that they introduced legislation to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, commonly known as the Craig/Wyden bill. Idaho Senator Larry Craig joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Alan Boyd (D-Fla.), and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), among others.

The Act, signed into law in 2000, stabilizes the share of national forest receipts for counties, designed to offset the fact that the federal government doesn’t pay property taxes. Counties who elect to participate in the program collect the greater of twenty-five percent of the current year’s receipts or the average of the highest three years since 1986. Counties may also direct funds toward a variety of projects, such as teen work crews, urban forestry, or forest-related education, and the Act established Resource Advisory Committees (RACs), diverse groups of 15 people who direct a share of the monies to projects on the local forest.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig said, “The law has been a tremendous success. Not only are our counties receiving needed funds for schools and roads, but for the first time a group of local citizens can direct funds toward projects on their forest.”

Idaho has five RACs: the Panhandle, North Central, Southwest, Central, and Eastern. Nationally, there are 70 RACs and over 2,500 projects have been authorized over the past four years.

Craig expanded further on the RACs, “These groups represent a true coupling of community with land managers that is healthy for the land and healthy for the communities. They are partners in progress, creating trust, trails, and jobs.”

The legislation was introduced yesterday. The Senate bill number is S. 267 and the House bill is H.R. 571.

For more information, including highlights of RAC projects in Idaho, a copy of the legislation, a Boise State University report on the Act, and Senator Craig’s full statement, please visit http://craig.senate.gov/releases/pr020305a.htm.

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