Home > newsroom > Page
Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 14, 2011 - Today, the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands held an oversight hearing on the “Secure Rural Schools Reauthorization and Forest Management Options for a Viable County Payments Program.” The hearing focused on solutions to ensure forest counties and schools receive sufficient funds while increasing timber harvests and forest management on federal land to create jobs and boost forest county revenues.

“Over the years, federal policies, court rulings, and a general lack of understanding about the impact of public lands on schools and education have drastically eroded a once viable timber industry. Increasing management and multiple-use of our forest resources is the only practical option to ensure that the federal government can meet its obligations and provide certainty to our rural schools and communities. Today’s hearing was the first of many steps that will be taken in Congress to address this problem. In an effort to address the challenges many timber-dependent communities are currently facing, Congress must examine the policies currently hindering production and multiple use of our forest resources. Secure Rural Schools funds are essentially hush monies paid to communities in exchange for not being able to use their lands,” said Subcommittee Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-01).

“As we discuss the importance of revenue to these counties, timber sales--what should be the primary source of those revenues—have steeply declined from a high in the late 1980’s of over $1.5 billion to just $186 million last year—an 88% drop. The result has been a staggering loss of jobs and economic productivity in rural forest communities,” said Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04). “More federal land acquisition, wilderness designations and other restrictive management of existing lands have resulted in billions of dollars in federal maintenance backlogs, an increasing risk of catastrophic wildfires that emit tons of carbon into the atmosphere and sediment into streams and rivers, and more diseased and dying trees. Rather than maintain a status quo program that yields less revenue for counties, current statutory authorities should be reviewed to allow harvesting of more timber to make forests healthier and more economically viable for state and local governments to use for schools and other local needs.”


The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton to address steeply declining forest revenues caused by increased federal environmental regulations and land acquisition. The program is set to expire on September 30th, 2011 unless it is reauthorized by Congress.

The Secure Rural Schools legislation was originally intended to serve as a temporary program until policy changes could be made to restore county payments derived from timber receipts. However, federal lands continue to remain under lock and key by the Obama Administration, limiting economic development in local communities and prohibiting proper forest management. The lack of forest management has resulted in billions of dollars in federal maintenance backlogs, an increased risk of catastrophic wildfires, and more diseased and dying trees. The reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools therefore must promote active forest management as well as include incentives for increasing multiple-use and revenues from federal lands while ensuring forest counties and schools receive necessary funds.


Printable PDF of this document

Contact: Jill Strait, Spencer Pederson or Crystal Feldman 202-226-9019

Latest News

Members and Zinke Discuss a Better Path Forward for the Department of the Interior

Today, the Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing with Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke to examine the Trump Administration’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 201...... Read more

Bishop: Grizzly Delisting Process Emblematic of Need for ESA Reform

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be delisted from the endangered species list. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the fo...... Read more

House Passes "One Stop-Shop" Permitting Bill to Expand Water Storage Infrastructure

Today, the House passed H.R. 1654, the “Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act,” by a bipartisan vote of 233-180. Introduced by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), the bill creates a “one-stop-shop” permitt...... Read more

View All News


Full Committee Markup
Full Committee | 1324 Longworth House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515
Oversight Hearing “Examining Policy Impacts of Excessive Litigation Against the Department of the Interior”
Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations | 1324 Longworth House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515
Oversight Hearing on "Examining Access to Oil and Gas Development on Federal Lands"
Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources | 1324 Longworth House Office Building Washington D.C. 20515
View All Events