Sunday, December 10, 2023

Forest Service plans centennial

| January 25, 2005 11:00 PM

A local project is in the works to celebrate the Forest Service¹s centennial through an updated display at the Heritage Museum and a special newsprint publication.

The project is being organized as a cooperative effort between the Forest Service, the Heritage Museum, Communities for a Great Northwest and Libby High School. Funding is being provided by $10,500 approved last week by the Lincoln County Commissioners and $2,500 from the Lincoln County Resource Advisory Committee.

Project organizers, including Forest Service archaeologist Becky Timmons, Bruce Vincent of Communities for a Great Northwest, Mike Powers of the Heritage Museum and Libby High School teacher Jeff Gruber, are planning to print 15,000 copies of a newspaper containing stories highlighting the people and places on the Kootenai National Forest over the past 100 years. Plans are to include more than 100 photographs and historic maps, to discuss historic ranger stations and lookouts, and compare and contrast issues of the past with issues of today.

The newspaper will be made available at Forest Service offices as well as museums, schools and other venues around the area.

In the other phase of the project, the Heritage Museum¹s Forest Service exhibit will be updated, also to coincide with the agency¹s 100th anniversary. Plans are to focus on the comparison of the Forest Service¹s early days with modern management strategies. The current ranger¹s office in the museum exhibit will be expanded to include a modern office setting, the fire history exhibit will be expanded to include other significant historic fire events and the role of fire today, and historic and current issues surrounding wilderness will be addressed.

Both the county¹s share and the RAC¹s portion of funding for the project come from the federal government through the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. The law provides funds to counties containing national forest lands and replaces the former ³25 percent² payment system, under which county roads and schools received a quarter of all national forest receipts.

The law sets the payments to counties at the average of the three highest payments from 1986 to 1999. Lincoln County receives nearly $5.8 million annually. Under the terms of the 2000 law, 85 percent is allocated to roads and schools, and 15 percent is put toward special ³Title II² and ³Title III² projects.

Title II projects are recommended by resource advisory committees, made up of 15 people representing a variety of interests, and approved by the Secretary of Agriculture. At least 50 percent funds used for Title II projects must be dedicated to either road maintenance, decommissioning, or obliteration, or restoration of streams and watersheds. The remaining funds can be used to finance other projects described in the legislation.

Title III projects are developed and selected by the counties. The money must be spent on county projects that support National Forests such as projects related to search and rescue and other emergency services, community service work camps, easement purchases, forest-related educational opportunities, fire prevention and county planning or community forestry.