Secure Rural Schools Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service (USFS) Kaibab National Forest Red Butte Mountain, seen from Arizona Highway 64, in Arizona, on Dec 3, 2018. The Grand Canyon can be seen on the left.

 

 

"This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a reasonably good place for all of us to live in." - President Theodore Roosevelt 

Understanding the Program

The Secure Rural Schools program provides critical funding for schools, roads, and other municipal services to more than 700 counties across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

The Forest Service was established in 1905 with 56 million acres of land. By 1910, the amount of National Forest System land tripled to 172 million acres. Today, the agency manages approximately 196 million acres. Congress ratified the Act of May 23, 1908, as a measure to support rural counties whose tax base was limited by the growing amount of Federal land. A portion of Forest Service funds generated through multi-use activities, such as grazing, timber production, and special use permits, are distributed to eligible counties to help maintain local roads and schools.

By the year 2000, after decades of declining agency revenues, Congress passed the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act to help stabilize the funds available to rural counties.

Payments are divided into three distinct categories, or Titles: Title I for roads and schools, Title II for projects on Federal lands, and Title III for county projects. 

Updates

  • The Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committee Charter allows committees the flexibility to meet virtually. All committees are encouraged to utilize this flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notices of virtual meetings will be published in the Federal Register at least 15 days in advance. 
  • 2019 payments were distributed to states in March 2020 - news release
  • Secure Rural Schools projects must be initiated by Sept. 30, 2022, and project funds must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2023. Any funds, including funds from previous years, can be used.
  • Congress reauthorized Secure Rural Schools payments for fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/working-with-us/states/secure-rural-schools