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County to get $90K in mineral rights money: Goes towards roads, schools

Lawrence County will be the recipient of funds from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for roads and schools.

The ODNR is distributing $485,000 in federal money and $90,937 is headed to Lawrence County. That number includes $30,000 from a 2018 distribution that hadn’t been issued yet.

Funding comes from leases to mineral rights and forest products on federal lands in Ohio, including the Wayne National Forest, through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Secure Rural Schools Act program and the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Forest Acquired Lands and Flood Control Act Lands programs. Revenue sharing varies by program but brings anywhere from 25 to 75 percent back to the counties.

“Forest lands improve quality of life for all Ohioans,” said Dan Balser, chief of the ODNR Division of Forestry. “Revenue generated by these programs helps local districts promote conservation throughout Ohio.”

Lawrence County Commissioner DeAnna Holliday said the commissioners haven’t seen the funds yet, but probably will by their next meeting on Tuesday.

The WNF has just over 75,000 acres in Lawrence County, and the government pays the local government for payments in lieu of taxes (PILT) that they would get if the land was in private hands, as well as mineral payments.

The federal government used to pay with money from the sale of wood from public lands but after timber sales declined in the 1990s, Congress enacted the Secure Rural Schools Act to help the local communities that provide services like fire protection, police services and schools.