County Funds

Updated: November 25, 2013

Title III-County Funds

On October 2, 2013 Congress passed a one year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act as part of HR 527 Helium Stewardship Act. The reauthorization extended for one year the date by which title III projects must be initiated and the date by which title III funds must be obligated.  There are no other changes to title III.

Authorized uses of title III funds

 There are no changes to the authorized uses of title III county funds in the reauthorized Act.   However, in response to a July 16, 2012 report on county uses of title III funds by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Forest Service, beginning August 31, 2012, has updated the information on this website, including the title III frequently asked questions, to further clarify the type of expenditures allowed under title III.

The GAO report may be viewed at http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-775.  The USDA response to the GAO report may be viewed on this web site.

Title III funds may be used only to

  • carry out activities under the Firewise Communities program to provide to homeowners in fire-sensitive ecosystems education on, and assistance with implementing, techniques in home siting, home construction, and home landscaping that can increase the protection of people and property from wildfires,  
  • reimburse a participating county for search and rescue and other emergency services paid for by the county and performed on national forests after the date on which the use was approved as required in the Act, and
  • develop or update community wildfire protection plans in coordination with the Forest Service acting on behalf of the Secretary of Agriculture.

Annual certification of authorized expenditures of title III funds

The reauthorized Act continues to require counties allocating funds for title III projects to annually certify that the funds were used in accordance with title III (including a description of amounts and uses).  Please see the section on Certification for information, instructions and a revised required reporting form (2013 Title III Certification Form OMB 596-0220) for the annual certification of expenditures.  In response to the July 16, 2012 GAO audit report, the Forest Service has requested approval from the Office of Management and Budget to modify the certification form to collect information about obligation of title III funds as well as expenditures.  Deadline to initiate title III projects is September 30, 2014

The authority to initiate title III projects is extended one year to September 30, 2014. This deadline applies to title III funds received for fiscal years (FY) 2008-2012 as well as those to be received for FY2013.  This is the same deadline by which the Governor of an eligible State must transmit to the Forest Service an eligible county’s election to allocate its share of the State payment among titles II and III, or both, or to return funds to the Federal Government.  (Read more about elections to allocate a share of the State payment in the section on Secure Payments.)

The county’s initiation of a title III project must be documented.  For the purposes of title III, a project may be considered to be initiated at a point in time before the county publishes its intention to use title III funds for an authorized project in a publication of local record as required in section 302(b).  The Forest Service recommends that the county document its initiation of title III projects in the meeting minutes of its county governing body (e.g. board of commissioners) which reflect the county’s agreement to use the funds for the authorized uses in title III.

Deadline to obligate title III funds is September 30, 2014

The authority to obligate title III funds for authorized uses is extended one year.  The Forest Service recommends that a county’s procedure for and documentation of its obligation of title III funds be consistent with its procedures to obligate funds from other federal sources.  Title III funds not obligated by September 30, 2014, must be returned to the Treasury.  This deadline applies to title III funds received for FY 2008-2012 as well as those to be received for FY2013.  Read more about returning title III funds.