Associated Press Published

Timber County Payments Down After Subsidy Expires

early fall at Dolly Sods, WV

West Virginia and 40 other states are losing money after Congress ended subsidies to counties that contain national forest land.

Agriculture officials 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.

West Virginia is set to receive about $282,000 this year, down from about $1.97 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.