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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Effort to Reauthorize and Fund Secure Rural Schools, LWCF, and PILT Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 4, 2015) - U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has joined Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and others in introducing a bill to reauthorize and fund the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for six years, permanently reauthorize and fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and permanently fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.

The SRS program was created in 2000 to provide consistent and reliable funding for more than 775 rural counties and 4,400 schools located near national forests across the country. SRS helps pay for schools, roads, and emergency response services in rural counties, and forest health projects in national forests. The legislation would grant a six-year extension to provide certainty for these communities and support the continued diversification of economic development in these rural counties.

The bill also seeks to reauthorize and permanently fund LWCF. This highly-successful conservation program is set to expire on September 30. Since LWCF's inception, more than $4 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund over 40,000 projects in the country. Using revenues from offshore oil and gas development, the LWCF provides funding for additions to national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests and other federal public lands, making it the principal source of funds for federal acquisition of lands for outdoor recreation, habitat preservation and protection of special natural, cultural, and historic resources. LWCF has only received full funding once in its 50 years of existence, and many worthy projects are left unfunded each year. 

“LWCF investments in the Badger State have served as engines of growth for local economies that face economic challenges that require long-term solutions,” said Senator Baldwin. “That is why I’m proud to cosponsor legislation to fund and permanently authorize the LWCF—strengthening one of the world’s most successful conservation programs, and ensuring our nation’s long lasting commitment to stewardship.”

Additionally, the bill would permanently fund the PILT program. PILT is administered through the Department of the Interior and compensates rural counties for certain federal lands that cannot be taxed, including Bureau of Land Management land and national parks, forests, and wildlife refuges. Funding for each county is determined by a formula and is based on the number of acres of federal land within each county or jurisdiction and the population of that county or jurisdiction. Restoring mandatory funding of PILT not only provides certainty, but also improves infrastructure, safety, and strengthens rural counties that depend on public lands.