Appalachian Basin

Wayne National Forest Lease Sales Have Generated $1.75 Million for Communities Thus Far

EID has highlighted that the first two Bureau of Land Management lease auctions of federal minerals in the Wayne National Forest have yielded nearly $7 million in sales thus far. But folks may not realize that of that $7 million, the state of Ohio will receive 25 percent, or $1.75 million, a portion of  which goes directly to the community where the minerals are located.

For example, Monroe County received $42,454 from the first lease sale in December and should receive another $200,000 from the most recent sale in March.  This revenue is all-the-more significant considering 68 percent of this money goes directly to schools and there will likely be more revenue to come.  To date, 1,840 acres have been auctioned from two leases sales, with another 38,160 acres yet to be leased. It was recently reported that the BLM plans to offer another 141 acres of federal minerals for auction this September, all of which are located in Monroe County.

This is certainly good news for the people who live and work in Monroe County, as Monroe County Commissioner Mick Schumacher recently told the Times Leader,

“The money goes to the county to be divided. The school district gets 68 percent, and the rest is to be divided between the townships, local governments and levies. This is only initial sales, not royalties.”

This is just one of the reasons there has been strong support of leasing in the forest by a bipartisan group of elected officials, statewide groups, and landowners. During the extensive environmental review process, which concluded that there would be “no significant impact” to the forest for leasing of federal minerals, the bipartisan board of Monroe County Commissioners correctly forecasted the positive impact that would occur from leasing and begged the Bureau of Land Management for help. In a joint statement of support for leasing of federal minerals, county commissioners Tim Price (D), Carl Davis (D) and Mick Schumacher (R) stated,

“We are writing on behalf of our constituents and what has been a public outcry from landowners in Monroe County regarding delays with development of private mineral leases located under and adjacent to the Wayne National Forest. The real issue is property rights. In addition, since 2008, mineral development has generated more than $460,000 for local government. In 2015, Monroe County received $33,286.00 in Payment in Liu of Taxes (PILT), of which there was no monies received from federal minerals. We also find this matter concerning from a perspective of ‘The Secure Rural School and Community Self Determination Act of 2000’ (SRS), which is another source of funding from the Wayne National Forest that provide payments to fund important local services”

The Switzerland School District also strongly supported leasing of federal minerals in the forest, as school treasurer Lance Ewlwein stated,

“Approximately 24,000 acres of Wayne National Forest is located within our district. Because this land is tax exempt, the school district receives around 75 cents per acre in tax revenue which equates to around $18,000 per year. This places us at a significant competitive disadvantage because this land cannot generate additional mineral taxation that our students so desperately need.”

To put this into perspective, the 75 cents per acre received on the 1,840 acres leased in the first two sales would yield just $1,380 for the school per year. But thanks to fracking and the development of Utica Shale, that same acreage will now yield over $170,000 from the bonus payment alone, which is an 844 percent gain!

In January school districts reported that they hoped to “see funds from the Wayne National Forest leases.”  It’s clear now that they certainly are, which is great news for Ohio, Monroe County and —more specificity — for the Switzerland Local School District.

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