Feds want $18 million back from timber counties

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Associated Press

Posted on March 29, 2013 at 6:02 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 29 at 6:33 PM

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — Members of Congress from both parties say they're outraged that the U.S. Forest Service has demanded the return of millions of dollars in federal subsidies from rural timber counties.

Thirty members of the U.S. House sent a letter to the Obama administration demanding to know the authority for the move.

The Forest Service has sent letters to 41 states, mostly in the West, saying they need to repay $17.9 million that was allocated in January under the Secure Rural Schools Act, which makes up for cuts in federal logging revenues.

The repayment demand was prompted by automatic budget cuts and has many counties worrying about their already struggling economies.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar also says 1,850 counties will see cuts of about $20 million this year in another program.

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