The Association of O&C Counties (AOCC) publicly praised the hard work of Senator Ron Wyden in connection with the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS). SRS was reauthorized as part of the $1.2 trillion 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Biden this week.
"The SRS provisions in the much larger Infrastructure bill originated in the Senate with great bipartisan support and Senator Wyden as the lead sponsor. Senator Wyden made sure that SRS was included in the Infrastructure bill and that it stayed there throughout the difficult Congressional negotiations. Without his efforts, SRS would have been sidelined and counties and schools would have come up short," said Commissioner Tim Freeman of Douglas County, AOCC's President. Douglas County receives the largest share of SRS payments in the nation due to the vast amount of O&C lands and National Forest lands in the County and the overwhelming timber dependence of the local economy.
Over 700 counties in 40 states rely on SRS funding to pay for vital county services. The reauthorization assures payments for three more years, through federal fiscal year 2023. AOCC worked directly with Senator Wyden's staff in a supporting role through the reauthorization process and saw firsthand the Senator's commitment to counties. AOCC represents the interest of its member counties in connection with the 2.4 million acres of historic O&C lands, located only in 18 counties in Western Oregon.
"Not everyone loves the Infrastructure bill but without a doubt every receiving county appreciates SRS payments," said Rocky McVay, AOCC's Executive Director. "AOCC's members are particularly reliant on SRS, since it is intended as a temporary safety net in partial replacement for lost revenues from shared timber harvest receipts. We suffered more from those losses than anyone, anywhere. Until we get back on our feet with better forest management, SRS provides some financial stability for counties struggling to provide adequate levels of public services" said McVay.
“The reauthorization of SRS funding is a big win for AOCC's member counties and our residents. It is very welcome news and Senator Wyden has our gratitude” stated Commissioner Tim Freeman.
To learn more about AOCC, visit http://www.oandc.org or Contact Rocky McVay (Rocky@blupac.com).