When President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law Monday, he approved funding for a host of road repairs, bridge replacements and other transportation projects around the country.
But he also ensured rural counties like Douglas County would receive Secure Rural Schools funding for another three years.
The money is a federal payment to local governments that compensates them for the loss of federal timber harvest revenue.
While some of that money will go to local schools, hence the name Secure Rural Schools, much of it goes to the Douglas County government, which uses it to pay for basic services ranging from road improvements to law enforcement.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners said in a press release Monday that the renewal of funds shows that the commissioners’ advocacy with congressional delegates has paid off for Douglas County citizens.
Secure Rural Schools has also been amended, the commissioners said, to create a pathway for counties to get back on regular and consistent timber receipt payments.
Douglas County is one of 700 across the United States to receive SRS funding; however, because half the county is covered with federally-owned land, it is the county that receives the largest portion of SRS funding in the nation.
It’s expected the county will receive $8.8 million from O&C timberlands operated by the Bureau of Land Management and $6.48 million from National Forest Lands.
Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman said the reauthorization of SRS funding is a “big win for Douglas County and our residents.”
“It is very welcome news for us and many other counties and schools across the U.S. struggling financially to provide services. Now that these funds are approved, we can focus 100% of our efforts on responsible federal forest management,” Freeman said.