Schools, Roads and Local Forest Projects
January 24, 2009
Since 1908, the Forest Service returned 25 percent of its revenues, such as those from timber sales, mineral resources and grazing fees, to states that contain national forest lands. Those revenues declined significantly in recent decades. In 2000, the Secure Rural Schools Act was first passed and it provided assistance to affected counties and boroughs by stabilizing funding and transitioning to lower payments. That Act paid out more than $2.5 billion over seven years.
The SRS Act also provides money to fund projects nominated by resource advisory committees to maintain infrastructure, improve the health of ecosystems, protect communities, and strengthen local economies. People in the state serve on these committees, known as RACs and are responsible for recommending projects to the Forest Service for funding under the Act.
Past Alaska RAC nominated projects included fish passage construction, picnic shelter reconstruction, trail interpretive signing, campground redesign, trail reconstruction, public cabin maintenance, and invasive and noxious plant management. A recent report, Sustaining Forests and Communities, at www.fs.fed.us/srs summarizes past activities under the previous Act.
The Tongass National Forest will reconstitute former RACs under the current Act at: Yakutat; Ketchikan with Metlakatla added; and Petersburg/Wrangell with Kake added. The Forest Service anticipates forming at least six new committees in Alaska under the 2008 Act. The Chugach National Forest will host the new RACs: Kenai Peninsula with Anchorage and Kenai boroughs; and Prince William Sound with Cordova, Valdez, Tatitlek, Chenega and Whittier. New RACs on the Tongass will include: Prince of Wales Island communities; Sitka with Tenakee Springs and Port Alexander; Lynn Canal-Icy Strait with Haines, Gustavus, Hoonah, Pelican and Angoon; and Juneau.
People interested in serving on a RAC should watch their local media and the Federal Register in the coming months for information on applying for a position. Each RAC consists of 15 people and anyone within the state may apply for membership on any RAC. A person may only serve on one RAC.
For those interested in learning more about RACs, contact forest RAC coordinators: Chugach Coordinator Heather Gott- (907) 743-9505 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Tongass Coordinator Phil Sammon- (907) 228-6201 or email@example.com.
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