By Donna Nemeth
The USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region is seeking public feedback on a proposed list of deferred maintenance projects under consideration for Great American Outdoors Act funding in fiscal year 2022.
The Forest Service projects, which are now open for public feedback on the Forest Service website, aim to address the agency’s $5.2 billion deferred maintenance backlog and improve public access and quality of visitor experience through repair and restoration of roads, trails, bridges, recreation sites and other facilities.
The proposed projects can be viewed at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r2/home/?cid=fseprd853127.
The projects were selected based on seven criteria:
• Reducing deferred maintenance.
• Promoting management of America’s forests.
• Improving visitor experience.
• Contributing to rural economic development.
• Improving visitor access.
• Ensuring health and safety.
• Leveraging partner contributions and resources.
Signed into law this summer, the Great American Outdoors Act provides funding that will enable federal land managers to take aggressive steps to address deferred maintenance and other infrastructure projects on National Forest and grasslands through 2025. The Forest Service is working closely with all interested publics to ensure the selected projects continue to meet local needs and maximize the benefits experienced by millions of Americans who visit and use their national forests and grasslands.
The public has until Nov. 30 to review and provide feedback on the proposed list.
The Great American Outdoors Act responds to the growing $5 billion backlog of deferred maintenance on national forest and grasslands, which includes $3.7 billion for roads and bridges and $1.5 billion for visitor centers, campgrounds and other facilities.
The Forest Service currently administers more than 370,000 miles of roads, 13,400 bridges, 159,000 miles of trails, 1,700 dams and reservoirs, 1,500 communications sites, 27,000 recreation sites and 40,000 facilities of other types.
In addition to helping address deferred maintenance for these critical facilities and infrastructure, the Great American Outdoors Act will help the Forest Service to continue supporting rural economies and communities in and around national forests and grasslands across the country.