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Vacancies cloud role to allocate SRS funds

'We pulled the majority of that money back, all that we could....'

Idaho County Courthouse

Photo by David Rauzi
Idaho County Courthouse



— When the county receives federal Secure Rural Schools (SRS) forest funds anticipated next month, it will deal with two longstanding types of money not addressed in previous Free Press reporting on the sudden reauthorization earlier this year. These funds are known as Title II and Title III funds, and are administered differently than the bulk of the money, which flows to local schools and highway districts.

Nominations due by May 18

There are currently 8 vacancies, and 2 more RAC terms will expire in May of 2019, the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests announced Tuesday, May 8. Each nominee must submit a form by May 18.

The Secretary of Agriculture reviews and makes final RAC member selections. The process can take several months. More information on the process can be found at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/pts/specialprojects/racs.

The forms can be found on the Nez Perce-Clearwater website at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/nezperceclearwater/workingtogether/advisorycommittees

Contact Kurt Steele, Designated Federal Official, North Central Idaho RAC, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, 903 Third Street, Kamiah, Idaho 83536, or 208-935-4257, or ksteele@fs.fed.us. Or contact Lisa Canaday, 208-983-7004 or lcanaday@fs.fed.us.

Last Tuesday, May 1, the Idaho County Commission discussed the possibility of county commission chairman Skip Brandt joining the committee that allocates the Title II funding.

“We’re mandated by the act to put 15 percent of the funds into Title II and Title III,” Brandt said. “In the past we tried to dump most of that into Title II because it goes to projects on the ground and we only put a little bit into Title III.”

“We pulled the majority of that money back, all that we could, but we have to put 8 percent into Title II,” Brandt said, “and that’s where we left it.”

Title III funding goes to the county’s fire mitigation budget line, and provides for small forestry projects such as the Tahoe Fire Mitigation Project the Free Press reported April 25. The Title III money is administered by the county commissioners through the department run by former county commissioner Randy Doman.

In 2016, the county commission had asked for and received funding for Dixie Road maintenance through the Title II decision-making committee, known as a RAC (Resource Advisory Committee). Former county commissioner Jim Rehder had been a member of the Forest Service RAC the last time it met, in 2016, when $721,000 was allocated to 18 projects on the RAC’s recommendation.

New nominations for the RAC were sought in April 2016, when a number of prior members terms all expired. All but four of the 15 North Central Idaho RAC members had terms expire in September 2016, and the Forest Service solicited for nominees to fill those positions before they became vacant.

“It took about a year but we filled most of our vacancies,” RAC recorder Lisa Canaday said Friday, May 4. “Circumstances changed for some people and they either moved or weren’t able to serve anymore, so we will be sending a press release shortly to solicit for more members.”

With the expiration of SRS, the RAC vacancies persisted into last month.

“Out of 15, we only have 11 left,” Canaday said.

RAC membership seat by law include five representatives within each of three categories – industry/labor, environmental/dispersed recreation and elected officials/education/tribe/citizens-at-large. Seating is also limited within each category.

“It’s a hail mary pass, but let’s send a letter noting that now that SRS is alive again for two years, we’d like to be on the RAC,” Brandt said Tuesday.

The seat for a local elected official is not vacant, Canaday said, but she noted there is a vacancy for a state elected official or designee.



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