Idaho public lands and forests are set to receive a $28-million grant for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management to use for upgrades and improvements over the initial two years in funding under the Great American Outdoors Act.
As per a report, the Great American Outdoors Act, enacted in August 2020, is a five-year initiative granting approximately $1.9 billion annually in federal funding starting in 2021 through 2025.
The funding is divided among the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian Education for projects throughout the United States.
Public Lands managers in Idaho claim that the funding allocated through the Great American Outdoors Act couldn’t be arriving at a more appropriate time.
The biggest impact from the Great American Outdoors Act, for us, is really the ability to improve recreation sites,” Bureau of Land Management Idaho State Director Karen Kelleher said in an interview.
“Idaho’s population is growing, and that was supercharged with COVID when a lot more people moved to Idaho and a lot more people discovered the outdoors,” Kelleher said.
“The timing of the Great American Outdoors Act has been really fortuitous. We definitely had a significant backlog of work that needed to be done on recreation sites.”
For the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho has received a total of $11.4 million from the act, said Serena Baker, the BLM’s deputy state director for communications in Idaho. The money should allow the bureau to tackle 75% of its backlog of deferred maintenance at recreation sites, roads, and facilities across Idaho.
“We couldn’t normally fund these projects, but it’s allowing us to do bigger projects,” Rod Collins, a deputy state director for the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho, said in an interview.
One of the projects will allow the BLM to enhance the sewer, water, and electrical systems of C.J. Strike Reservoir, a popular fishing spot inside Elmore and Owyhee counties.
The bureau is expected to use $1.6 million of the Great American Outdoors Act to finish repairs to the boat ramp, boat dock, and improve parking facilities at Beehive Bend, a popular recreational spot on the Payette River near the town of Horseshoe Bend.
The Great American Outdoors Act funding will also be used for road maintenance, improvements to campsites, and brush clearing at the Wolf Flats Recreation Area east of Idaho Falls.
Bureau of Land Management officials explained that having five years of federal funding permits them to concentrate on the design and the engineering of the projects during the first couple of years before moving into repairs and construction over the next few years.
Projects in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest include:
- $100,000 for replacing the water system at the Scout Mountain Campground in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Westside Ranger District.
- $505,000 for road repairs and chip sealing a paved road to Scout Mountain Campground.
- $100,000 for replacing toilets, fire rings at picnic tables at the Scout Mountain Campground.
- $71,000 for trail maintenance, garbage removal, signs and new trail bridges in the East Mink Creek Corridor in the Westside Ranger District.
Projects within the Payette National Forest include
- $58,500 for replacing the water system at the Huckleberry Campground in the Payette National Forest, Council Ranger District.
- $83,876 for trail maintenance along the South Fork Salmon River Trail in the Payette National Forest, Krassel Ranger District.
- $70,945 for rerouting sections of the French Creek and Bear Pete Ridge trails in the Payette National Forest, McCall Ranger District.
- $167,298 for replacing fire pits, picnic tables, grills, bathrooms and signs at seven developed campgrounds and several primitive campsites in the Krassel Ranger District.
- $51,800 for replacing picnic tables, fire rings, signs and kiosks at the Last Chance Campground and Hazel Lake Campground in the Payette National Forest, New Meadows Ranger District.
- $134,650 for rerouting 1.5 miles of the Little Weiser Trail in the Council Ranger District.
- $269,000 for deferred maintenance and building repairs at the Burgdorf Guard Station in the McCall Ranger District.
- $400,000 to replace the failed Jenkins Crossing trail bridge in the McCall Ranger District to restore public access to once-popular trails.
- $95,095 to repair bridges in the Council Ranger District and Weiser Ranger District.
Meanwhile, projects in the Salmon-Challis National Forest include,
- $51,858 to replace picnic tables, fire rings and other amenities at sites within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District.
- $125,000 for replacing an old culvert with a new 40-foot bridge on the Boundary-Dagger Road in the Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District, which officials said will improve safety and access to the Boundary Creek boat launch on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.
- $1.1 million for road repairs and drainage improvement on the Boundary-Dagger Road in the Challis-Yankee Fork Ranger District.
- $333,500 for trail maintenance in the Central Idaho Wilderness Complex, an area that includes three forests.
- $510,300 for repairing boat ramps, parking areas, signs, fire rings, picnic tables, shelters and water systems in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, North Fork and Salmon-Cobalt Ranger Districts.
- $510,087 for heavy road maintenance on the Silver Creek Road in the Salmon-Cobalt Ranger District.
- $128,500 for stabilizing slopes, cutting out fallen trees and rerouting trails in the Central Idaho Wilderness Complex.
- $62,000 for repairs and maintenance within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
Projects within the Sawtooth National Forest include:
- $445,000 for replacing a 65-year-old single-lane bridge with a double-lane bridge at Willow Creek in the Sawtooth National Forest, Fairfield Ranger District.
- $250,000 for replacing existing toiles with new toilets that meet accessibility standards in Sawtooth National Forest.
- $95,200 for replacing up to six failed support posts along the Alice-Toxaway Loop Trail within the Sawtooth Wilderness.
- $587,365 for replacing a 1957-era pedestrian bridge with a new bridge over Redfish Lake Creek at the outlet of Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth National Forest.
- $90,000 for repairing trails, benches, railings, picnic tables and signs at 13 sites in the Sawtooth National Forest and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
- $54,000 for improvements, restoration and deferred maintenance on the Iron Mine Trail, Little Wood River Trail and Federal Gulch Trail in the Sawtooth National Forest, Ketchum Ranger District,
- $50,000 for new wood shingles, deck repairs, painting and electrical upgrades at the Bald Mountain Lookout in the Ketchum Ranger District.
- $410,000 to replace the temporary Warm Springs bridge with a permanent bridge in the Ketchum Ranger District. The existing temporary bridge was installed after the original bridge burned in the Beaver Creek Fire, forest service officials said.
This story originally appeared on Idaho Capital Sun.