US Forest Service Asks Congress for Funding for Trail Maintenance

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The United States Forest Service (USFS) needs $455 million a year over the next decade for trail maintenance, it told Congress. It did get that amount last year and requested it in its current budget. Its FY 21 budget request also asks for permission to use money from the Roads and Trails Fund for trail repair. Timber loggers put 10 percent of their revenue into the fund to build, which is used for roads and bridges that help them get to the trees they chop down, but currently not for bike trails.

At a February hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, USFS Deputy Chief Chris French testified that the service improved 196 miles of trail under the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which supports construction on infrastructure that accesses high-use recreation sites and economic generators located on federal lands.

French also stated that new rules relaxing regulations under the National Environmental Protection Act will help USFS manage trails. The controversial new rules exclude some types of projects from environmental reviews. The new rules “when fully implemented will reduce process delays for routine activities by months or years,” French testified. (https://transportation.house.gov/imo/media/doc/Testimony-French.pdf).

Since USFS does not get nearly enough money to maintain its roads, the agency has set four criteria for prioritizing projects, in order. Number three consists of “projects that improve access to recreation sites and trails,” French told the subcommittee.

 

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