Audit takes issue with Skamania County timber payments




Skamania County failed to properly account for thousands of dollars in federal forest money last year by not ensuring the money was spent in accordance with program guidelines, according to the Washington State Auditor’s Office.

Roughly $200,000 of the $2.2 million the county received last year in federal forest money was tied to Title III, a program that may be used to reimburse counties for providing emergency services on federal land. The county used $41,544 to pay for patrolling federal forestland and public pre-planning and rescue coordination, which are not allowed under the grant’s requirements.

Reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Self-Determination Act in 2008 more narrowly restricted how Title III funds could be used, but Skamania County received no specific guidance on how the money could be used, county officials said.

Last year, a General Accounting Office audit on the use of Title III funds indicated the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management hadn’t provided enough guidance to counties on the changes.

The federal agencies will update information about the Title III program on its website, according to the Forest Service.