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Federal program seeks to lessen the impact of cutbacks in logging over the past 30 years.

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Secure Rural Schools  program funnels money for schools, roads, law enforcement and other essential services. It is paid to 31 of Oregon's 36 counties who lost billions of dollars when the federal government significantly reduced logging in the state in the 1990s.

Yamhill County will receive more than $300,000 from the federal government this year as part of a program designed to replace some funding lost by the curtailment of logging on public lands in Oregon, Idaho and Washington decades ago.

The Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program funnels money for schools, roads, law enforcement and other essential services. It is paid to 31 of Oregon's 36 counties, which lost billions of dollars when the federal government significantly reduced logging in the state in the 1990s. All told this year, $39.3 million will reach Oregon counties, according to a release from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, who co-authored the SRS legislation in 2000, as well as U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley and U.S. Reps. Peter Defazio, Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader. Yamhill County will receive approximately $346,663 in funding in 2021.

This year's payments are the last authorized under the current iteration of the SRS program. Wyden, Merkley and Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch are, according to the release, "making a bipartisan push to reauthorize the SRS program through September … while also working to pass the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act," which would provide more long-term and stable funding and replace the need to reauthorize the SRS every two years.

"For the better part of two decades SRS payments have maintained an economic lifeline for rural Oregonians counting on quality schools, dependable infrastructure and more in their communities," Wyden said in the release. "The ongoing challenge of dealing with COVID-19 and its economic impact makes these current payments more important than ever now, while work continues both on a short-term SRS reauthorization and on a longer-term SRS endowment that gets rural counties once and for all off this roller coaster of uncertainty."

Wyden also highlighted his successful effort to include $1 billion in annual payments to tribes and for rural tracts of federal land in President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.

Since Wyden co-wrote the original SRS program with then-Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, it has delivered about $3.4 billion to Oregon counties.


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