Senator Steve Daines today announced that the U.S. Forest Service will allocate nearly $18 million to Montana’s rural and forested counties under the Secure Rural Schools program.

The Forest Service this week released 2014 Secure Rural Schools payment levels for Montana counties following the recent reauthorization of the critical program.

“The Secure Rural Schools program is a lifeline for Montana’s rural counties – many of which have suffered from severe economic challenges in the wake of declining timber harvests and natural resource production. These payments are welcome news for the dozens of Montana counties that are already stretching their budgets to support local schools, infrastructure maintenance and critical community services,” Daines stated. “But Montanans still need long-term certainty and permanent solutions that perpetual short-term extensions of the Secure Rural Schools program can never provide. We must continue working for long-term solutions that improve the health of our National Forests and create the good-paying jobs that are needed for the economic renewal of Montana’s rural counties.”

Daines joined the Senate in passing a two-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program earlier this month.