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Supervisors appropriate Forest Reserve payments for trails

 

Last updated 10/11/2007 at Noon



A Federal law which distributes logging tax revenue for local schools and roads will provide $144,000 to the county this year, and on September 25 the Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $21,600 of that money for acquisition of trail easements.

The supervisors’ 5-0 vote also approved a recommendation to seek state legislation which would change the distribution to allow more money to be spent on roads and trails.

Prior to 2001, the Forest Reserve payments were tied to logging activities and varied from year to year. The intent of the program is to finance local schools and infrastructure in rural areas. The Federal payments are distributed to the states, which distribute the money to each county.

Half of the money allocated by the State of California is earmarked for schools while the other half had been provided exclusively to the county road fund prior to 2002. The California allocation of half for roads and trails and half for the County Office of Education has been unchanged since 1908, and the allocation distribution formula is the same for all of California’s 58 counties.

In October 2000 President Clinton signed the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which was intended to alleviate the impact of reduced logging activities. The act provided rural counties with an increased and predictable level of funding for local schools and roads by providing approximately $1.1 billion above pre-2000 Forest Reserve payments over a period of five years. Congress recently extended the 2000 act for one additional year.

The increased appropriation led to a January 2002 Board of Supervisors decision to allocate 15 percent of the Forest Reserve payments for acquisition of trail easements related to local forested lands. That equated to approximately $12,500 annually, and over five years a total of $62,611 was appropriated in the county’s Capital Outlay Fund for trail easement acquisitions.

The current allocation of 15 percent of the extension-year revenue provided a higher annual allocation. “That’s $21,600 that we didn’t have before,” said Trish Boaz, the chief of the Resource Management Division of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Boaz noted that the allocated money has not yet been earmarked for specific easement purchases.

 

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