Bousman applauds new program for direct aid to counties

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Counties applauded the inclusion of a new program to provide additional direct aid to public lands counties as part of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The Local Assistance and Tribal Fund will provide $1.5 billion in direct, flexible aid to public lands counties spread over the next two years, in addition to the American Rescue Plan Act’s $65.1-billion county aid package.

It also tasks the U.S. Treasury Department with developing a distribution formula based on each eligible county’s economic conditions, such as poverty and unemployment rates, household income and land value.

Sublette County Commission Chair Joel Bousman, who also serves as chair of the NACo Public Lands Steering Committee, commended Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden for spearheading the legislation.

“Federal lands counties rely on natural resource extraction, such as timber and petroleum, as a key component of our local economies,” Bousman said in a release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has cost us jobs in these sectors and negatively impacted communities like mine. Sen. Wyden’s Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund will ensure western counties have the resources necessary to meet the public safety, community health and economic assistances needs of our residents and public lands visitors.”