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County Projects Okayed

Forest service supervisor approves 30 items

Enhancing wildlife forage, removal of hazardous trees along forest roads, replacement of culverts improving fish passages, and removal of noxious weeds are among the $1.8 million in projects recently approved by Forest Supervisor Claire Lavendel.

These funds are approved for projects

across the Forest under the 2000 County Payments law.

Lavendel approved a total of 30 projects recommended by the North and South Gifford Pinchot National Forest Resource Advisory Committees.

Lavendel approved 18 projects recommended by the Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) for the south half of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest valued at $1,198,734; she also approved 12 projects recommended by the North RAC valued at $653,981.

The projects are listed on the Resource Advisory Committee web site: http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/projects/payments-to-counties/index.shtml

The RACs are required under the county payments legislation to review and recommend proposals for funding of projects located on the Forest or that benefit the Forest.

The two RACs have 15 members each of various backgrounds who were selected by the Secretary of Agriculture.

The North RAC comprises Lewis County and the northern one-fifth of Skamania County. The South RAC comprises Cowlitz, Skamania and Klickitat counties.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 gives counties a payment in lieu of taxes on federal lands equal to the average of their three highest years' payments for Forest products between 1986 and 1999. Skamania County receives the highest such payment in Washington each year -- $11.2 million Lewis County receives the second highest such payment in Washington each year -- $5.5 million.

The counties are required to spend between 15 and 20 percent of their payments on either Title II or Title III projects. Title II projects are Forest enhancement activities requiring approval by the Forest Supervisor after being recommended by a RAC. Title III projects are for follow projects: search and rescue, community service work camps, easement purchases, forest related education opportunities, fire prevention and county planning, and community forestry.

Since the inception of the Title II program, more than $8.2 million has been approved for improvements to the Forest using county payment funds.

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