WASHINGTON (AP) — The farm bill that has cleared the House includes a one-year extension of a federal program that compensates rural counties for federal lands they can’t tax. About 1,900 local governments – mostly in the West – received a total of $400 million last year under the program, known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILT…. …read more
by Dave Haviland •
OLYMPIA – The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved the purchase of a 5,497-acre property 35 miles northwest of Yakima that provides prime habitat for elk, northern spotted owls, bull trout and other native species.
Also approved was a separate purchase by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to add a 598-acre property to the state’s Wenas Wildlife Area in Yakima County.
The commission, a citizen board that sets policy for WDFW, approved both acquisitions during a public meeting Nov. 8-9 in Olympia, where members also heard public comments on a proposed management plan for Grays Harbor salmon fisheries.
Commission Chair Miranda Wecker of Naselle commended the Nature Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation – the two non-profit organizations that offered the properties for sale – for their dedication to wildlife conservation.
“We applaud you for securing these properties for the public, and for the stewardship your organizations provide for lands under your care,” she told representatives of those groups who attended the meeting.
by Dave Haviland •
Secure Rural Schools program invested over $400,000 in Grays Harbor County in 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed an extension of a key program championed by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) that is critical for roads and schools in Washington state’s forest-dependent counties. The bill, as amended by the Senate and approved on Thursday by a 97-2 margin, would extend the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program.
Cantwell called for the program’s extension during a March committee hearing and has long been a leader on continuing SRS payments to rural counties across Washington state and the nation.
SRS helps compensate counties for revenue lost from declining U.S. Forest Service timber harvests on federal lands near forest communities. The Senate bill would extend SRS for one year and invest $263 million into the program. The legislation now heads to the House for a vote. Unless the House acts, counties will not receive any support from SRS this calendar year.