The U.S. Forest Service is demanding that states give back money originally intended for the development of roadways and schools.

The money under debate is part of a federal program known as Secure Rural Schools which sends money to counties with adjacent federal land.

U.S. Forest Service representatives say they need the money back to make the five percent cuts brought about by the sequester.

"For Ravalli County that's about 38,415 dollars," said Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott. "They're trying to say that that is based on the sequestration implemented in March. Unfortunately, that went into effect on March 1 for the federal government. However, we received our payment from the federal government, actually through the state of Montana, on January 18. At least for me, I see no legal justification for the Forest Service to require the State or the counties to pay back the funds."

Governors in Alaska and Wyoming have already refused to send a dime back to the Forest Service, but, so far, Governor Steve Bullock of Montana has remained silent. When asked for his position, the governors office replied by saying “the Governor is still considering the issue and will make a decision soon.”

Montana received $19,746,884 in January's Forest Service disbursement. At this point it is unclear how much, if any, of that sum will return to the U.S. Forest Service.


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