Monroe County receives oil and gas money

FBLM?hands down $42,000 from Wayne National Forest lease

T-L Photo/JANELL HUNTER
Monroe County Engineer Amy Zwick speaks to county commissioners during a Monday meeting.

T-L Photo/JANELL HUNTER Monroe County Engineer Amy Zwick speaks to county commissioners during a Monday meeting.

WOODSFIELD — The Federal Bureau of Land Management netted $1.7 million from the sale of oil and gas leasing rights in the Wayne National Forest, and Monroe County received about $42,000 of those proceeds.

In December, acreage in the Wayne National Forest was auctioned off to private companies for oil and gas exploration and production at the recommendation of the BLM after environmental impact studies determined there would be “no significant impact” to the forest.

The state of Ohio received 25 percent of the $1.7 million — or $425,000 — which was distributed to each county according to the amount of acreage sold. Monroe County’s receipts totaled $42,454.05, and payment was distributed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

“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,” said Commissioner Mick Schumacher. “This is only initial sales, not royalties.”

“This has got to be really good for those counties,” said Mike Eberhardt of the ODNR’s Office of Budget and Finance.

The county also received a Secure Rural Schools payment from ODNR, which amounted to $6,364.

“Most counties will see a significant reduction in the Secure Rural Schools payment compared to the previous year. The Secure Rural Schools payment authority expired on September 30, 2016.

Because the SRS Act has not been reauthorized, the 1908 Act, as amended, requiring 25 percent payments will govern the distribution of payments to states,” Eberhardt said in a letter to the commissioners.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, Since 1908, 25 percent of Forest Service revenues from timber sales, mineral leases, recreation, grazing and other sources have been shared with states and counties in which national forest lands are located.

The BLM plans to offer 141.56 more acres of federal mineral estate within the Wayne National Forest Marietta Unit in September, all of which is located in Monroe County.

In related business, Monroe County Engineer Amy Zwick told commissioners on Monday that lobbyist for the County Engineer’s Association of Ohio Michael Evans said that the county will soon be receiving proceeds from the sale of timber in the county’s national forest lands.

“At the last CEAO meeting Evans said this may raise $30,000 to $100,000 for Monroe County, and the money will be divided between schools, and roads and bridges,” Zwick said.

The county will be getting three slips repaired with 100 percent reimbursement from the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to Zwick. ODOT declared on March 20 that counties would receive the assistance if the slips were determined to be caused by the heavy rains that fell during the winter months of this year. ODOT stipulates that the work must be completed within 180 days of the March 20 proclamation to qualify for reimbursement.

“The aid only applies to federal aid routes, of which there are not very many in the county. The three that I submitted were approved, and we are contracting the work out because the work needs to be done quickly,” Zwick said.

The three slips that will be repaired are located on County Roads 81, 44 and a bridge on County Road 12.

Zwick said work is set to begin in June to repair the front and back driveways of the Monroe County Care Center. The work will include chipping and sealing, and repairing potholes. The repairs will cost the county an estimated $1,740.33.

In other county business, commissioners approved a resolution to vacate a Switzerland Township road at the junction of German Ridge and Township Road 204. All township trustees were in agreement, and no one was in attendance to protest the public hearing for the county’s vacation of the road.

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