The Idaho Conservation League’s executive director Justin Hayes and public lands director John Robison joined three U.S. senators and other leaders from Oregon and Idaho to discuss a reintroduction of federal legislation creating a lasting endowment for forested counties.

U.S. Senators Mike Crapo, Ron Wyden and James E. Risch spoke about the importance of having financial certainty for rural counties to ensure they have the long-term funding needed for schools, road maintenance, law enforcement and other essential services.

At the event in front of the Idaho Statehouse, ICL’s Robison said, “Our National Forests are one of our nation’s best ideas, but they need help. Rural communities in the West also need help. Rural counties are struggling to keep schools open and roads maintained. We need to work together to bring relief and greater certainty to communities that have been left behind.”

He added, “This legislation would allow counties to improve forest conditions to reduce wildfire risk while at the same time restoring our watersheds, creating jobs and stimulating rural community economies. Reliable funding is critical for the long-term productivity, health and prosperity of our National Forests and our rural communities. The fate of our forests and our communities are intertwined.”

The three senators and Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley sponsored the Forest Management for Rural Stability Act which creates a permanent endowment fund of stable, increasing and reliable funding for county services, separate from annual appropriations.