August 2005 // Volume 43 // Number 4 // Feature Articles // 4FEA6

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Public Law 106-393 (Title III) Forestry Extension Programming in Mississippi

The passage of Public Law 106-393 (PL 106-393), the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act in 2000 provided the Forestry Extension program at MSU with an unprecedented opportunity to secure long term funding for programs in select counties across the state. During fiscal years 2002 and 2003, over 1.1 million dollars have been received. This paper will discuss PL 106-393 and its' impact on the Forestry Extension program at MSU. The applicability of the MSU approach to obtaining to other states around the country will also be discussed.

Andrew J. Londo
Associate Professor/Extension Forestry Coordinator
Department of Forestry
Mississippi State University
Starkville, Mississippi

Don Bales
Extension Associate III
PO Box 348
Purvis, Mississippi

Laura Grace
Associate Professor
Department of Forestry
Mississippi State University
Starkville, Mississippi

Timothy Traugott
Extension Professor
1241 Mound Street, Suite E
Grenada, Mississippi

Stephen Dicke
Extension Professor
1320 Seven Springs Road
Raymond, Mississippi

Glenn Hughes
Extension Professor
PO Box 348
Purvis, Mississippi

John Kushla
Assistant Professor
5421 Highway 145 S
Verona, Mississippi

Robert C. Carter
Assistant Professor
Biology Department
Jacksonville, Alabama


Forestry Extension at Mississippi State University (MSU) has consistently provided a variety of educational programs to clientele across the state for over 30 years (Londo & Monaghan 2002; Londo & Gaddis, 2003). In addition to state and federal "hard money" funds, extramural funds have always been sought to augment existing programs, and to create new programs. Grant funding, however, poses a unique problem because control of program content and delivery is often sacrificed to the funding source, while the faculty and staff expend valuable time chasing dollars rather than conducting programs (Barth, Stryker, Arrington, & Syed, 1999).

The passage of Public Law 106-393 (PL 106-393), the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000, provided the Forestry Extension program at MSU with an unprecedented opportunity to secure external funds to conduct existing programs in targeted counties throughout the state for a period of 6 years. This article describes PL 106-393, the use of these funds across Mississippi, and the effect that PL 106-393 funding has had on the forest landowner and youth education at Mississippi State for 2002 and 2003.

Public Law 106-393

There are six National Forests in Mississippi, spread across 33 of the states' 82 counties. These lands, like most public lands, are exempt from property taxes. For the Mississippi counties with U.S. Forest Service lands, this can reduce the taxable land base by as much as 35% (Hartsell & London, 1995). The U.S. congress enacted the National Forest Revenue Act (NFRA) in 1908 to ensure that counties with U.S. Forest Service lands would receive some revenue from National Forests to offset the reduction in taxable land. Under NFRA, the U.S. Treasury was required to return 25% of the revenues from the National Forests to the counties for public schools and roads. Traditionally, the bulk of these revenues have been generated through timber sales (Cubbage, O'Laughlin, & Bullock, 1993). The reduction in the federal timber sales program that occurred during the 1990's dramatically reduced the amount of money returned to the counties. By 1999, timber sale proceeds returned to counties from the six National Forests in Mississippi were reduced by approximately $28 million dollars per year.

Congress enacted the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act (PL 106-393) in 2000 to stabilize county payments from National Forestlands. Under PL 106-393, counties have the option of choosing to receive the traditional 25% payment mandated under NFRA or receive a secure payment for 6 years based on the average of the three highest payments between 1986 and 1999. Most Mississippi County Boards of Supervisors chose to take this secure payment. In 2001, Mississippi counties received secure payments totaling $7.4 million, approximately 10 times greater than payments anticipated from timber sales in Mississippi's National Forests.

Under Public Law 106-393, counties receiving a secure payment of over $100,000 are required to use 80 - 85% under Title I. Title I covers traditional uses of these funds, where 50 % goes to the county government for public roads and bridges and 50 % goes to the county school system. They are also required to reserve 15 - 20% for other projects under Title II and/or Title III. If the county does not use the money for Title II or Title III projects, these restricted funds must be returned to the U.S. Treasury.

If the county elects to use the restricted funds for Title II projects, the funds are held in accounts controlled by the U.S. Forest Service. The U.S. Forest Service then assists the county by forming a 15 member Resource Advisory Council (RAC). The U.S. Forest Service and the RAC then controls the funding and the projects to be conducted. Due to the complexity of dealing with a RAC and loss of financial control under Title II, most Mississippi county governments chose Title III, County Projects.

Under Title III, County Projects, the county government actually receives a check to deposit into its local accounts and chooses and conducts its own projects. This option allows county governments maximum control over all of its "secure payment." The six authorized uses of Title III funds include:

  1. Forest related educational opportunities,
  2. Augmentation of search rescue and emergency services,
  3. Community service work camps,
  4. Acquire easements for recreational or conservation purposes, and
  5. Fire prevention and county planning, and
  6. Community forestry projects.

MSU Forestry Extension personnel contacted individual county boards of supervisors in counties where Title III programming funding would be available. Through this process, most of the 20 counties (14 for this time period) opted to allow MSU Forestry Extension to handle the Title III programming responsibilities through agreements with each individual county. The agreements made with county boards of supervisors across Mississippi run through 2007. During 2002-2003, Title III Associates (hired on these funds to work exclusively in Title III counties only) conducted educational programs through agreements with 14 counties. These agreements are designed to comply fully with all aspects of Title III under PL 106-393.


Data on the impacts of the Title III program are from the 2002 and 2003 annual reports of the Extension program of the Department of Forestry at MSU. Information from these annual reports discussed here includes:

  • Proposals/Grants funded,
  • Forest landowner short courses,
  • Forest landowner workshops, and
  • Youth education activities.


Proposals/Grants Funded

There were 14 Title III contracts in place for the 2002 and 2003 fiscal years. These contracts totaled $1,134,398 (Table 1). During fiscal year 2005, the Title III program is expected to add approximately $640,000 to the budget for MSU Forestry Extension program.

Table 1.
Extramural Funds Obtained for Landowner and Youth Education Programs by MSU Forestry Extension Personnel for the 2002 and 2003 Fiscal Years

Conducted by

Number of Grants/Contracts Received

Amount ($)

Title III



Other Landowner and youth Education Funds






Percent Title III



Forest Landowner Short Courses

Short courses conducted in fiscal years 2002 and 2003 were reported in the annual reports for those years. Table 2 compares lists a summary of all short courses conducted for these years.

Table 2.
Short Courses Conducted MSU Forestry Extension Personnel for the 2002 and 2003 Fiscal Years

Conducted by

No. Short Courses Conducted


Acreage Affected*

Value ($)*

Title III





Other Personnel










Percent Title III





* This information gathered from exit surveys following each short course. For a complete description of forest landowner short courses at MSU, see Londo & Monaghan (2002).

Forest Landowner Workshops

Forest landowner workshops combine short courses and field days with a short lecture session in-doors, followed by a laboratory type exercise in the field (Londo, 2004). Table 3 compares lists a summary of all workshops conducted for these years.

Table 3.
Workshops Conducted by MSU Forestry Extension Personnel for the 2002 and 2003 Fiscal Years

Conducted by

No. Workshops conducted


Acreage Affected

Value ($)

Title III





Other Personnel










Percent Title III





Youth Education Activities

Youth education activities have been a focus area for extension for decades. Table 4 compares youth education activities conducted by Title III and all other forestry Extension personnel during 2002 and 2003.

Table 4.
Youth Education Activities Conducted by MSU Forestry Extension Personnel for the 2002 and 2003 Fiscal Years

Conducted by

Number of Activities


Title III



Other Personnel






Percent Title III




The acquisition of extramural funds through the Title III program has had a profound impact on the overall Forestry Extension program at MSU. These funds enabled the hiring of four Extension associates to oversee the contracts with the various county boards of supervisors, as well as to conduct the educational programs and activities within those counties. These four associates allowed the program to grow without significantly increasing the workload for the permanent Forestry Extension faculty and staff. This is crucial when securing extramural funds. It is difficult to justify securing extramural funds if you don't have the time or ability to conduct the new and existing programs well.

The amount of grant money received by the Title III program represents a significant contribution to the overall program. This amount increases to over $3.2 million during the 6-year period. Consistent extramural funding levels of this nature are very rare.

Forest landowner short courses at Mississippi State have been conducted since the mid 1980s' and represent one of the main educational methods employed by the Forestry Extension program (Londo & Monaghan, 2002). Title III conducted approximately 1/3 of the short courses conducted during this period. Similarly, Title III conducted approximately 2/3 of all the workshops conducted statewide during this time period.

The impacts of these extra programs, which would not have been conducted without the Title III funds, include more than just the measured contacts, acreage, and financial gains. Many of the counties now participating in the Title III program had few Forestry Extension programs conducted in the past. Title III increased the amount of forestry programs provided to these counties, thereby reaching underserved landowners Underserved landowners are defined as those landowners who have not traditionally attended Forestry Extension programs, or have not sought advice from a professional forester in the past. Engaging these underserved audiences can only benefit forest and wildlife management and the Forestry Extension program (Hoorman, 2002; Measells, Grado, & Hughes, 2005).

Forestry Extension has traditionally been landowner based; however, there is significant opportunity for youth forestry education as well (Broussard & Jones, 2001). It is important to educate youth about forestry and other natural resources management issues. In this way, they will have a basis upon which to form opinions and make informed decision as adults. It is in youth education that the Title III program has had the most pronounced impact on the overall Forestry Extension program.

Youth education programs conducted by Forestry Extension faculty and staff include a variety of activities including county and state level 4-H Forestry teams, Arbor Day activities, the Wood Magic Science Fair, Project Learning Tree workshops for teachers, and a youth conservation camp. These activities provided youth and teachers with factual information on forestry, forest products, and natural resources. Title III has accounted for 70% of all youth contacts over the last 2 years (Table 4). It is expected that this number will continue to rise.

Another significant contribution from Title III to the overall Forestry Extension program is the variety of programs and activities being offered, due in large part to the availability of extramural funds. Title III personnel have conducted field days, demonstration plots, and other varied activities. These activities help show the breadth of topics included in forestry and natural resources, while providing new and innovative ways of explaining and demonstrating important key concepts. The only limitation to the activities being created and conducted is the imagination of the Title III associates and county-level people they are working with. Some of these new activities will be discussed in future issues of the Journal of Extension.

Applicability to Other States

The Title III program can be a windfall for those states around the country that have significant U.S. Forest Service land holdings within them. It is recommended that a cohesive approach by individual departments be taken to secure these funds, when possible. Once funds are obtained, staff can be hired to conduct programs and oversee operations. This also will give the state forestry and natural resources Extension programs the opportunity to expand and provide programming to an increasingly diverse clientele, in spite of current hard money funding levels.

Funds can also be secured on the individual county level. This will provide the county agent with a significant, long-term funding source for forestry and natural resources educational programs. One danger is a decrease in hard money funds provided by the county to support the Extension service due to the acquisition of Title III funds. It needs to be made clear to the county board of supervisors that the Title III funds are additional to, or above and beyond, what the county would normally provide. Having soft money support "base level" county programming activities should be avoided.


The passage of Public Law 106-393 (PL 106-393), the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, in 2000 had a profound impact in Mississippi. This legislation provided the Forestry Extension program at MSU with an unprecedented opportunity to secure long-term external funds to conduct existing forestry programs in targeted counties throughout the state for a period of 6 years. The MSU Forestry Extension program developed Memoranda of Agreements with County Boards of Supervisors for Title III funds to conduct educational programs in their counties. For fiscal years 2002-2003, MSU Forestry Extension had 14 counties under contract to conduct extensive forestry educational programs.

Since its inception, Title III has accounted for most of the extramural funds secured within the MSU Forestry Extension program, and a significant number of short courses, workshops, and youth education programs have been conducted statewide. The ability of the Title III program to utilize already existing programming provided for easy access to materials. In addition, funding provided by Title III, along with the resourcefulness and creativity of Title III associates, has allowed for the creation of new educational programs and activities.

While some county Extension agents in other states have secured these funds on their own, the Forestry Extension program at MSU is the only one to create an entire program for securing these funds on a statewide level. The acquisition of Title III funds will amount to over $3.2 million dollars during 2001-2007. This represents a significant addition to the Forestry Extension program. While most Forestry Extension faculty and staff contribute to the Title III program in some way, the four Title III Associates hired through these funds conduct most of the programs. This has allowed the "hard money" Forestry Extension faculty and staff to conduct their own programs with little extra workload.

The legislation creating PL 106-393 is scheduled to sunset in 2007. However, all available information indicates that reauthorization will occur. The Forest Counties Payments Committee, an Advisory Committee to Congress, issued a Report to Congress in 2003 entitled "Recommendations for Making Payments to States and Counties." The committee recommends a Reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-393), with modifications.

This reauthorization could provide long-term funding for Forestry Extension in Mississippi and can provide similar funding sources for forestry and natural resources Extension programs in other states.


The success of the Title III program is dependant on more people than are listed as authors on this paper. This list includes Dr. Thomas Monaghan, formerly Leader of Forestry Extension at MSU now with the Mississippi Forestry Association. Dr. Monaghan initiated the drive to secure these funds on a state wide basis. Also, Britton Hatcher, Butch Bailey, and Trey DeLoach are the Extension associates hired with the Title III funds to conduct the programs. Without their hard work, this article would not have been possible.


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Measells, M.K., Grado, S. C., & Hughes, H. G. (2005). The underserved status of Mississippi forest landowners. In proceedings of the 2004 southern forest economics workshop. St. Augustine, Florida, March 16, 2004. pp. 157-166.