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Senator Dole Urges Preservation of National Forests

This letter from NC senator Elizabeth Dole was written in response to a letter from Mr. Cliff Brisson Jr., P.A., attourney at law practicing in Fayetteville, NC regarding the sale of national forest lands to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.

June 5, 2006

Mr. Cliff Brisson Jr.
806 Hay Street
Fayetteville, North Carolina 28305

Dear Mr. Brisson

Thank you for contacting me regarding the proposed sale of national forest land in order to fund the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000. I appreciate hearing from you and would like to take this opportunity to respond.

As you may know, the Administration has announced a proposal to auction off more than 300,000 acres of national forests and other public lands – including about 10,000 acres in North Carolina – in order to generate $800 million for the Secure Rural Schools Program. The plan also calls for a phased reduction in funding for the program to zero by 2011. In exchange for 10,000 wooded acres, North Carolina would get an estimated $1 million, while more than a quarter of the money raised nationwide would benefit rural schools in Oregon and Washington. On March 21, 2006, I wrote to the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, urging them to oppose this proposal.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act has been so important to the livelihood of North Carolina’s many rural counties, which rely on these funds for public schools and road maintenance. I am a cosponsor of a bill that would extend the Act through fiscal year 2013. In light of today’s tight budget, it is imperative that we look for offsets for government programs; however, I do not believe it is a wise investment to sell our public lands in return for short-term funding of a program that deserves full-funding on its own – especially when the lands have been selected without the input of local communities and park rangers.

Again, thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the sale of national forest land. I will be sure to keep your views in mind when the Senate considers related legislation. Should you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or visit my website at http://dole.senate.gov.

With my warmest best wishes,

Elizabeth Dole

Letter reproduced with permission of recipient

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