Timber county payments fall in Virginia after subsidy expires

USDA ForestRICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Virginia and 40 other states losing money after Congress ended subsidies to counties that contain national forest land. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday that the U.S. Forest Service is distributing more than $50 million to 746 timber counties nationwide. That’s compared with about $300 million during the final year of the Secure Rural Schools subsidies program. Virginia is set to receive more than $282,000 this year. That’s down from about $1.58 million last year. For decades, the Forest Service has paid a quarter of its logging revenues to counties with forest land to be used for roads and schools. About 20 years ago, with logging being reduced to protect the spotted owl and salmon, Congress began approving the subsidies. Efforts to renew the subsidies died in Congress last month.

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