Skamania County in Washington state faces a unique situation where almost 80% of the land is owned by the federal government. This land ownership dynamic has led the county to receive $4 million from the U.S. Treasury through the Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Fund (LATCF), a program designed to provide flexible funding to local governments during the pandemic.
Unlike other federal aid programs, the LATCF money comes with minimal restrictions, allowing the county to allocate it for various purposes.
Across Washington state, counties and tribes are set to receive over $110 million in two installments through the LATCF program. The amount each county receives is based on factors such as the extent of federally owned land, poverty indicators, and tribal enrollment numbers.
Skamania County has already designated a significant portion of its funding for specific purposes, including insurance premiums, county building maintenance, and software upgrades.
While the LATCF aid is considered significant, some county commissioners believe it falls short of addressing the full extent of the challenges posed by federal land ownership. They express a desire for increased access to logging opportunities and explore potential avenues for economic development, such as community forest land, business parks, and utility projects on public land.