Mississippi Counties to Share $5.3 Million for Hosting Federal Forests

Contributor: Rachael Thomas
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Updated: 4/04/2014 3:36 pm
Nearly three dozen Mississippi counties will benefit from $5.3 million in Secure Rural Schools funding being released by the U.S. Forest Service, according to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).

The funding, authorized by the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act, is provided to counties as compensation for the amount of tax-exempt federal land in a county and in recognition of the reduction in revenue-producing timber harvests from national forest lands nationwide. Cochran, who serves as the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over the Forest Service, has supported the program and cosponsored authorizing legislation.

“The Secure Rural Schools initiative helps counties in Mississippi and throughout the country whose property tax revenues are limited because of the presence of large tracts of tax-exempt federal government lands,” said Cochran, who serves on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the Forest Service.

In addition to the $5.3 million that will directly benefit counties, the Forest Service will also direct $379,268 to national forests in Mississippi for conservation work determined by resource advisory committee.

The Secure Rural Schools program was reauthorized last year for one year. The 2014 payment will benefit 35 Mississippi counties that are the primary hosts of more than 1.17 million acres of national forest land.

Counties that have received Safe and Rural School funding in the past include: Adams, Amite, Benton, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Copiah, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jones, Lafayette, Lincoln, Marshall, Newton, Oktibbeha, Pearl River, Perry, Pontotoc, Scott, Sharkey, Smith, Stone, Tippah, Union, Washington, Wayne, Wilkinson, Winston, Yalobusha, and Yazoo.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, the amount of timber harvest activities occurring on Mississippi’s six National Forests have declined nearly 50% over the last three years in terms of the volume of timber harvested and the receipts generated through timber sales.

U.S.F.S. Safe and Rural Schools: http://1.usa.gov/1lv3V1W

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