WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Senate, following similar action by the House, has approved an extension of the program that provides federal funding for rural forest counties.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised last week’s passage of the two-year renewal of the Secure Rural Schools program.

“This extension ends months of uncertainty for Oregon’s rural communities, who have grappled with on-again, off-again funding for roads, schools and first responders,” Wyden said. “Renewed county payments buy us time to build support for solutions that address the broader economic issues that plague too many of our rural areas.”

Wyden authored the original Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program in 2000 with then-Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho. Since then it has brought more than $2.8 billion to rural Oregon counties.

The two-year extension is expected to bring about $85 million to Oregon counties this year.

The extension was attached to a larger package of legislation to extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program and to update, improve and make permanent the formula for paying doctors and other health care providers who treat Medicare patients.

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