Sen. Jim Risch

Sen. Jim Risch

Idaho senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and 23 of their colleagues joined a call Tuesday to renew a program that helps to pay for schools and roads in much of rural Idaho.

"Over the last nearly two decades, (Secure Rural Schools) has been a critical lifeline for over 775 counties in over 40 states across the country by helping fund more than 4,400 schools, road maintenance, law enforcement, and search and rescue operations," the senators wrote to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asking the program be renewed for another year. "Congress has an obligation to ensure counties with swaths of tax-exempt forestlands can adequately provide essential services for their residents."

The program provides payments to counties containing tax-exempt Forest Service lands that are higher than the otherwise standard payment of 25 percent of forest land revenues. It has existed since 2000 and typically gets reauthorized with strong bipartisan support. Locally Custer, Lemhi, Fremont and Clark counties get significant amounts of money through the program.

Crapo, a Republican, and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden are co-sponsoring the renewal legislation.

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