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Forest Service To Catch Up With Maintenance Backlogs Through GAOA Funds

In 2021, the Great American Outdoors Act was the first to establish the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF), the most significant investment in public land in U.S. history.

Maintenance backlogs will be dealt with on public land, including local areas like Kootenai National Forest. Kootenai National Forest, up to 2025, according to a news report by The Western News.

For the U.S. Forest Service, this can be a way to enhance critical infrastructure that is vital to utilize to make the most of national grasslands and forests.

The Forest Service receives 15% of LRF funds, which amounts to $285 million annually. The fund is funded by 50% of energy development revenue from gas, oil, coal, or alternative or renewable energies on land owned by the federal government and water. The maximum amount is $1.9 billion annually.

Laura Jungst, recreation program manager for the Kootenai National Forest, said they were behind on maintenance for a long time.

The Great American Outdoors Act will aid maintenance costs from 2021 until 2025. The highest priority areas will be addressed first. These are areas that have a lengthy history of neglected maintenance. Specific maintenance involves the removal of picnic tables or fire rings in several locations.

She stated that, as they experience more visits, it’s great to have the money.

The Forest Service uses partnerships when possible, such as the long-standing partnership with the Montana Conservation Corps, which permits the Forest Service to address things that full-time employees might not be able to do without being overwhelmed.

So far, 73 miles of trails, including the one that leads to Alvord Lake Classroom, have been maintained in the last two years, which could not have been done without the additional funds.

Jungst explained that the intention is to maintain that pace through 2025. A long list of tasks that have delayed maintenance requirements “feels endless.”

The Forest Service maintains more than 160,000 miles of trails nationwide.

Local projects include repairing and maintaining docks for boats at the Koocanusa Marina, Dorr Skeels Boat Launch, and the Bad Medicine Boat Launch. The project will receive the sum of $418,540 to fund. The project is scheduled for the end date of 2024.

In the next five years, over $1 million will be spent on local trail maintenance. These trails must be maintained to limit erosion by solid material, prevent the spread of noxious weeds , and improve the experience for visitors.

The scope of work includes cutting blowdown out, cutting debris, reinstating tread, and repairing drainage problems for trails.

Some other projects in progress that could take place during the bill’s duration include $167,000 for replacing damaged or broken fire rings at campgrounds in the area.

There are already rings in Peck Gulch, Bad Medicine, and the Yaak the River Campground. The rings are designed to prevent wildland fires.

The Forest Service will also allocate $125,600 for the installation of new tables for picnic tables in recreation areas. Some have been set up on the Peck Gulch and Bad Medicine campsites.

Rexford Bench, a developed recreation area situated on Lake Koocanusa, will have its 50-year-old wastewater system replaced. This will decrease maintenance requirements and regular closures of the wastewater system. It is one of the most popular recreation spots within the Kootenai National Forest.

The Forest Service has also been capable of completing repairs and painting work at The Webb Mountain, Big Creek Baldy, and Gem Peak lookouts.

The new roof was put on top of the South Flower Creek cross-country ski shelter, and parking was expanded to Ross Creek Cedars.

Jungst stated that it’s great to have assistance to ensure the infrastructure is in good order.

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February 17, 2024 9:44 pm

Hey, did you know that the GAOA also supports fresh lands for recreation? That means more chances for outdoor fun!

April 1, 2024 7:47 pm

Isn’t it great how the Forest Service is revamping natural areas and trails? Their work with partners benefits us all. What’s your take on it?


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Forest Service To Catch Up With Maintenance Backlogs Through GAOA Funds! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/forest-service-to-catch-up-with-maintenance-backlogs-through-gaoa-funds/