May 20, 2013
Dear Chief Tidwell:
In March 2013, the Forest Service ("Service") began demanding states return $17.9 million they had received - and in many cases already spent - under the Secure Rural Schools Program ("SRS"). Congress has authorized this money to help pay for schools and government services in areas where environmental lawsuits and Service mismanagement have reduced proceeds from timber harvests on federal lands in rural communities.
Under this program, payments are required to be made as soon as practicable after the end of the fiscal year. In July 2012, Congress approved the most recent SRS payments, which were distributed to the states in January 2013 by the Service. At an April 11, 2013 hearing before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation, you stated you had "personally pursued every avenue ... to find a different solution," yet it was concluded that a percentage must be returned to the Service to account for budget shortfalls from sequestration and that failure to do so would result in penalties.
Read the entire letter HERE