Chamber Applauds Administration Efforts to Fund Rural Counties Through Land Sales | U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Chamber Applauds Administration Efforts to Fund Rural Counties Through Land Sales

Tuesday, March 28, 2006 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The United States Chamber of Commerce today endorsed a recent land sale initiative by the U.S. Forest Service that would raise approximately $800 million. The proceeds would be used to provide assistance to more than 4,400 struggling schools in rural counties that are in or adjoining federal forest lands.

"Rural counties have been devastated by the draconian provisions of today's environmental laws," said William Kovacs, U.S. Chamber vice president for regulatory policy. "National forests are no longer being managed for multiple-use benefits, as originally intended under the nation's land management laws."

The initiative identifies multiple tracts of national forest land to be sold in order to fund the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. This Act provides funding to rural counties and schools across the United States for everything from road maintenance to school programs. The U.S. Chamber strongly supports the Forest Service's proposal as an effective way to fund the reauthorization of the Act.

"Through this land sale and reauthorization, the President restores balance to the system, while helping struggling schools in rural areas," continued Kovacs.

The Forest Service manages approximately 193 million acres in 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands located in 43 States across the nation. The number of tracts included in the proposed land sale initiative constitutes less than one-fifth of one percent of the National Forest System land base. Moreover, these tracts, which range from about a half-acre to about 700 acres, are interspersed, or adjacent to, non-federal lands, making them much more difficult—and costly—to manage effectively.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

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Editors Note: The Chamber's comments are available online.