OREGON COUNTY -- Oregon County Presiding Commissioner Leo Warren said he and fellow Commissioners Buddy Wright and John Wrenfrow oppose the sale of National Forest Service land in Oregon County.
Warren said if the Forest Service plan is approved, in the future, five years to be exact, counties involved would see a drastic decrease in funds.
Warren explained how timber on Forest Service lands became important to rural schools.
"Timber sales were extremely low as 1999 rolled into 2000 in our country. Because of this the Secure Rural and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 was passed by Congress," he said.
Warren said this allowed counties with Forest Service land to go back 15 years and choose the three best revenue years of timber sales. "We averaged those years and that is what counties and schools with Forest Service land would receive for the next six years."
Warren said now the six years is up and the president wants to sell more than 21,000 acres in Missouri and also thousands of acres of Forest Service land in other states to keep the Secure Schools Act funded for another five years.
"The way I understand it, each of those five years our funds would decrease every year and after the fifth year the funds will be gone and Oregon County will be back to where we were before 2000," he said.
Warren said the local commission has been in contact with U.S. Sen. Jim Talent, U.S. Sen Kit Bond and Congresswoman Emerson's offices since the Forest Service land sale proposal was announced.
"As a rural, small county with more Forest Service land than any other county in Missouri, we appreciate the help our state and federal elected officials have provided and hope they can persuade the Bush administration to change its mind," he said.