I didn’t get to posting this sooner, sorry…it’s on right now.
Here’s the link to the webcast..
Here are some quotes from an E&E news story yesterday..
Members will hear from Obama administration officials, county advocates and researchers on ways to extend or reform the Secure Rural Schools program (SRS), which expired last October, and Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), whose funding source will soon expire.
The programs provide a financial lifeline particularly for rural Western counties where timber revenues from federal forests fell sharply in the 1990s as protections were granted to endangered species and their habitat.
The Forest Service has historically returned 25 percent of revenues from federal timber sales to counties, and in western Oregon, the Bureau of Land Management has returned half of timber receipts.
Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who authored SRS more than a decade ago with former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), last week warned that if the program is not extended, counties in western Oregon will soon have to decide whether to lay off teachers, close schools, shed law enforcement jobs or defer road projects.
But while Wyden and Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have pledged to secure at least a short-term extension of SRS, Wyden said such a move alone would fail to provide the financial certainty counties need. Baucus is said to have identified an offset to pay for extending SRS.
“A short-term extension is not a long-term solution for these communities,” Wyden said. “We’ve got to get our people back to work in the woods, for example. We have got to increase the number of jobs in resource-dependent communities where there’s federal lands and federal water. We believe that can be done consistent with protecting our environmental values.”
But striking the right balance between federal aid, increased logging and local tax revenues to stabilize county budgets has eluded lawmakers, conservationists, loggers and local officials for decades.
Extending SRS has never been politically popular, as it is criticized by Republicans and logging advocates as a form of welfare for Western counties that would rather get their revenue from managing the forests. House Republicans have proposed a plan that would require the Forest Service to establish trusts that would meet historic revenue targets through sharp increases in timber harvests.
But the bill would lift bedrock environmental laws and was opposed by Wyden and environmental groups. Few believe the Forest Service could achieve historic timber harvest levels without expanding the use of clearcuts.
Wow.. news.. huh.. not very clear on what “bedrock environmental laws” would be lifted. I also like the “few believe”.. I don’t remember being asked ;), wonder who was?
I’m also going to start a new category.. I’ve been putting these kinds of efforts under Community Forest Management, Role of local and state government, trust management, county payments, etc.
They are solutions to the underlying issue of “sustainable rural economies.” So I’m going to delete those categories and start a new one, unless I hear differently. Also looking for a category name more inspiring than “sustainable rural economies>”
But I think these are solutions to the problem and we need to track the whole problem and all the possible solutions. This would include place based, trusts, giving to the state, etc. But I think it’s important to focus on a positive vision of what the solutions would do..