Idaho rural counties and schools got their federal money as a rider to the transportation bill that just passed and was signed by President Barack Obama. Now the Resource Advisory Committees that collavorate to spend part of the money on forest projects are racing to make their choices.
Idaho will slightly less than the $31 million it got this year from the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act — better known as Craig-Wyden, after the two Northwest senators who championed it. The act replaces revenues from drastically dwindled timber sale receipts that once buoyed counties and school districts with large tracts of federal timberlands and little private land to generate property taxes.
The counties and the schools get about $26 million and the RACs hand out about $3 million. Another $1 million is spent on search and rescue and fire prevention. The RACs are made up of local officials, environmentalists, sportsmen, motorized recreationists, labor and industry. The RACs now must scramble because they didn’t know if they would have any money to spend until last week.
The actual amount is still being determined as federal officials run through the complicated formula to hand out about 95 percent of what they did this year.
The Southwest Idaho RAC announced Monday it will be accepting proposals for review and possible funding for 2013.
“The RAC will be very busy over the next two months because they have about $550,000 to award for 2013,” said Payette National Forest Supervisor Keith Lannom. “The authority of the RAC to recommend projects expires on September 30, 2012, so they need to complete recommendations for 2013 in the next 8 weeks.”
RAC-funded projects must be located on National Forest System Lands in Adams, Boise, Elmore, Gem, Valley, and Washington counties or on nearby lands if the project will benefit resources on the National Forests. Projects can be completed by Forest Service personnel, through partnership agreements or by open-bid contracting with individuals and corporations.
The RAC works closely with the Forest Service to recommend projects that will benefit forest health, fish, wildlife, soils, watersheds and other resources; maintains roads, trails and other infrastructure; or control noxious weeds. For more information go to www.idahorac.org.