Secure Rural Schools Virginia Resource Advisory Committee
Virginia Resource Advisory Committee (RAC) members work collaboratively with the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and partners to improve forest conditions via projects that provide local jobs, restore landscapes, enhance recreation, combat invasive species and engage youth.
The RAC consists of 15 members who represent a variety of interest groups who work together to review and recommend approval of forest improvement projects under Title II of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. Secure Rural Schools payments are appropriated by the U.S. Congress.
Counties can elect to put some or all of their payments into the Title II fund. Currently Alleghany and Bland counties, Va. have elected to allocate funding for Title II projects. The Virginia Resource Advisory Committee provides recommendations on how Title II funds will be spent in each county that elects to fund projects. The Act defines a wide variety of activities that can be accomplished with Title II funds, most of which focus on restoration or maintenance of infrastructure. Most projects are on federal land, but they don’t have to be. If proposed projects are on private land, they need to benefit Federal lands or resources. Read more about Secure Rural Schools legislation and payments
- The national Secure Rural Schools Act Resource Advisory Committee Charter was signed in October 2021.
Congress reauthorized Secure Rural Schools payments for fiscal years 2021-2023.
The Virginia Resource Advisory Committee held a meeting on July 11, 2023 in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest Supervisor's Office in Roanoke, VA to discuss project funding.
Under title II of the Act the Secretary of Agriculture may establish a Secure Rural Schools resource advisory committee for part of a national forest or for one or more national forests to ensure that each national forest on which special projects are proposed has access to a RAC. Secure Rural Schools RACs were first established under the “Secure Rural School and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-393). Authorization for those committees expired September 30, 2006. In 2007 the Act was extended for one year in Public Law 110-28. In October 2008 the Act was amended and reauthorized for four years, federal fiscal years 2008-2011 and again in 2012 and 2013 under P.L.110-343. It authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to reactivate the Secure Rural Schools Act resource advisory committees that were in place prior to September 29, 2006 and to establish new RACs as appropriate.
For further information check out these websites:
https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/secure-rural-schools https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/secure-rural-schools/payments https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/secure-rural-schools/archived-payments https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/secure-rural-schools/act https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/secure-rural-schools/categories https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/secure-rural-schools/title-3-faqs
Each county in an eligible state must elect to receive one of the following payments:
a share of the state’s 25-percent payment, OR a share of the “State payment”. 25-percent - Since 2008 the 25-percent payment has been based on a 7-year rolling average national forest receipts, distributed among the counties in which the national forest is situated in proportion to acreage of national forest in the affected counties. 25-percent payments must be used for public schools and roads in accordance with 16 U.S.C. 500. Under 16 U.S.C. 500, the State has broad discretion as to how to allocate the payment for public schools and roads, including authorizing the county to make the allocation.
State payment - The county share of the Secure Rural Schools Act State payment must be allocated according to the guidelines below to be used for public schools and roads (commonly called title I funds), title II special projects on national forests, and title III county funds to be used for Firewise communities activities, to reimburse counties for emergency services on the national forests and for development of community wildfire protection plans. More information on authorized uses of title II funds for Special Projects and title III, County Funds is posted elsewhere on this web site.
Title II funds may be used for the protection, restoration, and enhancement of fish and wildlife habitat, and other resource objectives consistent with the Act on Federal land and on non-Federal land where projects would benefit the resources on Federal land.
The purposes of the Act include making additional investments in, and creating employment opportunities through title II funded projects that:
improve the maintenance of existing infrastructure; implement stewardship objectives that enhance forest ecosystems; and restore and improve land health and water quality; The funds may be used for projects that enjoy broad based support and have objectives that may include--
road, trail, and infrastructure maintenance or obliteration; soil productivity improvement; improvements in forest ecosystem health; watershed restoration and maintenance; the restoration, maintenance, and improvement of wildlife and fish habitat; the control of noxious and exotic weeds; and the re-establishment of native species. Planning and implementing the projects should help improve cooperative relationships among the people that use and care for Federal land and the agencies that manage the Federal land.
Resource Advisory Committee Information
Committee members must be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Members of the RAC must be appointed to represent one of the following three interest groups:
Category One: Five members who represent energy and mineral development; the commercial timber industry; organized labor or non-timber forest product harvester groups; developed outdoor recreation; off-highway vehicle users, or commercial recreation; or federal grazing or other land permits or represent nonindustrial private forest land owners. Category Two: Five members who represent nationally recognized environmental organizations; regionally or locally recognized environmental organizations; dispersed recreational activities; archaeological and historical interests; or nationally or regionally recognized wild horse and burro interest groups, wildlife or hunting organizations, or watershed associations. Category Three: Five members who are elected state officials; are county or local elected officials; represent Indian tribes within or adjacent to the area for which the Council is organized; are school officials or teachers with knowledge in natural resource management or the natural sciences; or represent the affected public-at-large and/or are employed by a state agency responsible for the management of natural resources, land or water.
RACs are citizen groups that meet about once a year to consider proposals for Title II spending. Projects generally fall into two categories: roads or other infrastructure related projects and restoration projects.
The Secretary of Agriculture appoints a total of 15 citizens to four-year terms on the RAC.
Membership on a RAC is a volunteer position but mileage for travel can be reimbursed. Meetings are generally held on a weekday morning in Roanoke, Virginia as it is a central location.
Apply today to become a member of the Virginia Resource Advisory Committee (VA-RAC) and help secure funding for critical Forest Service projects. The Virginia RAC accepts applications on a rolling basis.
Applicants must be able to represent one of the three interest groups listed in “Committee Composition” above. Probability of selection is increased if the candidate fits multiple categories so applicants should not limit their application to one category.
George Washington and Jefferson National Forests Attn: VA RAC Committee Coordinator; 5162 ValleyPointe Parkway Roanoke, VA 24019