Idaho schools secure $6 million in federal timber funding

Idaho schools will receive slightly more than $6 million in federal money, as part of a two-year extension of the feds’ Secure Rural Schools program.

This year’s payments represent a slight increase from 2019.

Incorporated into a larger federal spending bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Trump, the Secure Rural Schools program will provide a total of $24 million for Idaho. The program provides federal funding for schools and counties in timber country, to offset declining proceeds for logging on federal forest lands.

And since the program is designed to replace timber revenues, the bulk of Idaho’s federal dollars goes to a handful of timber-rich communities. For example, nearly a third of the money goes to Idaho County alone.

In a joint news release Monday, Idaho’s congressional delegation and state Treasurer Julie Ellsworth touted the federal payments.

“The nearly $24 million SRS payments Idaho will receive provides critical funding streams for rural Idahoans,” Sen. Mike Crapo said Monday. “I will continue working in Congress to pass federal legislation that makes the SRS program permanent to provide more long-term stability and certainty for communities and school districts home to large swaths of federal land.”

Pushed by then-Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the Secure Rural Schools program dates back to 2000. But the program has faced several threats on Capitol Hill in recent years. Congress has cut funding, and supporters have kept the program afloat by tacking it on to unrelated legislation.

Crapo and Sen. Jim Risch, both R-Idaho, have been pushing a bipartisan bill designed to set up a permanent endowment to fund the Secure Rural Schools program in perpetuity. The cost of the endowment is estimated at $7 billion.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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