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USDA Forest Service invests more than $232M to support schools, roads, other services as part of Investing in America agenda

USDA Press Release


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service today announced it is issuing more than $232 million to support public schools, roads and other municipal services through the agency’s Secure Rural Schools program. The program was reauthorized for fiscal years 2021 through 2023 through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Fiscal year 2023 funds will be paid to 745 eligible counties in 41 states and Puerto Rico.

“National forests and grasslands cover more than 193 million acres, including across rural counties that are important partners in helping sustainably manage resources,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Secure Rural Schools program is able to contribute to the economic vitality and well-being of the communities intertwined with our forests.”

“The Secure Rural Schools program is just one of the ways the Forest Service supports communities nationwide,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. “This funding aids schools and roads, reimburses counties for national forest emergency services, and assists in creating community wildfire protection plans – all critical programs designed to enhance the quality of life in these communities.”

In addition to Secure Rural Schools payments, the Forest Service is using Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act funding to improve forest conditions, support local economies and create jobs by investing in forest restoration projects, road and trail maintenance, recreation opportunities and wood innovation development.

Over the past 10 years, the Forest Service has distributed $2.4 billion through the Secure Rural Schools program.

The Forest Service retains some of the funding to support projects that improve forest conditions and support jobs in rural communities. Resource advisory committees made up of residents representing varied interests and areas of expertise review and recommend the projects that meet their local needs.

This year’s payments to states are below:

New Hampshire$447,052
New Mexico$9,309,362
New York$19,091
North Carolina$1,469,497
North Dakota$251
Oregon $47,782,384
Puerto Rico$171,857
South Carolina$1,458,678
South Dakota$1,122,288
Vermont $299,856
West Virginia$1,486,097
Wyoming $4,461,02

TOTAL: $232,415,330

For payment information by county, visit Secure Rural Schools - Payments | USDA Forest Service.


In the years after the Forest Service was established in 1905, the national forest system tripled in size, growing from 56 million in 1905 to 172 million acres in 1908. To compensate counties for potential losses of tax revenue from this early growth, Congress ratified the Act of May 23, 1908. The Act allowed the Forest Service to distribute a portion of agency revenues from timber sales, mineral leases, recreation, grazing and other sources to those states and counties containing national forests and grasslands.

Agency revenues from these activities declined in the late 20th century. In response, Congress passed the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 to help stabilize fiscal support for rural county services. In 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law reauthorized Secure Rural Schools payments through fiscal year 2023.

Each state’s Secure Rural School payment amount is determined by various factors established in the law, including the number of counties that elect to share in a state's payment. Payments to states are distributed after the Forest Service collects revenue to accommodate those counties electing to continue participation in revenue sharing rather than the Secure Rural School payment.

The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages the 193 million acres of National Forest System land, provides stewardship assistance to non-federal forest landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.