LOGAN — For 2019, the Wayne National Forest contributed $552,433 to 12 southeast Ohio counties containing national forest lands. These payments are mainly made based on national forest acreage within the county, as well as other factors, and are distributed by the following year.
The payments derive from management activities through four main funding sources: Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT), Secure Rural Schools, Twenty-Five Percent Fund, and federal mineral disbursements. In addition, funds were also paid for road projects, cooperative law enforcement agreements, and volunteer fire department support.
“Many people don’t realize that part of the mission of the USDA Forest Service is to be a good neighbor to local communities through economic contributions for the presence and management of national forest lands,” said Forest Supervisor Carrie Gilbert. “These payments are part of our multiple use management approach and help communities fund critical needs like emergency response, public schools, infrastructure, and public safety.”
Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funds are federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to having nontaxable federal lands within their boundaries. PILT payments vary depending on the amount of national forest monies paid in the previous year and congressional appropriations.
Counties also receive payments through one of two additional sources: Secure Rural Schools or the Twenty-Five Percent Fund. Counties may choose to receive Secure Rural Schools funding when it is authorized by Congress. In years when Secure Rural Schools funds are not available, the source reverts to the Twenty-Five Percent Fund.
The Twenty-Five Percent Fund (Payments to States Act of 1908) directs 25 percent of all receipts received from commercial activities on national forests back to their respective states. States then redistribute the funds to counties that contain national forest lands. Fees from commercial activities include those for timber, grazing, special use permits, energy and mineral leases, and admission and recreation. The funding must be used for public schools and public roads.
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture; it has not been permanently authorized by Congress. When its funds are available, they may be distributed through Title I, II, or III. Title I funds must be used for roads and schools. Fifteen to twenty percent of the funds may be distributed through Title II or III. Title II funds must be used for resource management activities, and Title III funds should be used for reimbursement of emergency services on federal lands and community wildfire protection plans.
The Wayne National Forest also shares royalties received from mineral production on its lands through federal mineral disbursements (https://revenuedata.doi.gov/explore/OH/#disbursements). All counties receive funds based on acreage of national forest land, according to state calculations. Federal mineral leasing is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). However, in accordance with regulations, the Forest Service determines when and what parts of its surface lands may be available for mineral development through mineral lease sales with private companies.
Hocking County will receive $66,304; Perry County will receive $58,196.