PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) — Following USDA’s announcement of $503 million in new funding for conservation and outdoor projects in fiscal year 2022 through the Great American Outdoors Act, the Forest Service’s total investment in addressing the deferred maintenance backlog on Washington and Oregon national forests is $54 million for 72 projects during the first two years of funding under the act.
The National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF) established by the Great American Outdoors Act provides up to five years of funding to help federal land managers address a critical backlog of deferred maintenance challenges.
Great American Outdoor investments in the Pacific Northwest include:
--$9.92 million in 18 Great American Outdoors Act projects across five national forests in Washington State in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Five projects were funded $4.0 million in fiscal year 2021 and 13 projects were funded $5.92 million in fiscal year 2022.
--$27.69 million in 46 Great American Outdoors Act projects across 11 national forests and one national scenic area in Oregon in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Seventeen projects were funded $20.17 million in fiscal year 2021 and 29 projects were funded $7.52 million in fiscal year 2022.
--$16.41 million in 8 Great American Outdoors Act projects at the Regional level in fiscal years 2021 and 2022. Seven Regional projects were funded $15.91 million in fiscal year 2021 and one Regional project was funded $0.5 million in fiscal year 2022.
“Funding for infrastructure on the National Forest System is critical to our ability to work together to support the communities we serve, to active management, and to Shared Stewardship,” said Lisa Northrup, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region Deputy Regional Forester.
“This substantial backlog of deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, and recreation facilities on public lands impairs our ability to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, respond to wildfires, and support rural economic prosperity. These important investments will help us do our part in fulfilling America’s commitment to maintaining national forests and grasslands for the benefit of people today, and for future generations,” she said.
In Washington state, projects funded for fiscal year 2022 include $1.55 million for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for continued road, bridge, recreation site, and trail work along the South Fork Stillaguamish River and Mountain Loop Highway corridor. The forest also received $480,000 for deferred maintenance, a trail bridge, and dam rehabilitation at the Heather Meadows Trail recreation site. The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest received $150,000 in fiscal year 2022 for work on the Selkirks to Surf: North Cascades Recreation Scenic Corridor project. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest received $970,00 for water system repairs at La Wis Wis campground.
In Oregon, the Ochoco National Forest received $2.4 million in fiscal year 2022 funding for road maintenance on high recreation and timber roads. The Siuslaw National Forest received $650,000 for roof and gutter repairs and replacements at several visitor centers. Mt. Hood National Forest received $4.8 million to continue critical boiler system updates at the historic Timberline Lodge.
The Forest Service has allocated $500,000 to improve aquatic organism passage in Washington and Oregon, which will help fund projects that remove barriers that block the upstream passage of many species, including threatened and endangered salmon, steelhead and lamprey.
For information on specific GAOA projects, check out the GAOA Forest Service dashboard at: https://bit.ly/399Kcbt.
The Great American Outdoors Act also provides permanent annual funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Forest Service administers two Land Water Conservation Fund programs – the Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition program.
In Fiscal Year 2021, the Forest Service invested $14 million in Forest Legacy program projects in Oregon and Washington and nearly $11 million in National Forest System Land Acquisition projects in the Region.
In Fiscal Year 2022, the Forest Service is investing $5.97 million in Forest Legacy Program projects in Oregon and Washington. Of this, $3.87 million allocated to the Nason Ridge project in Washington and $2.1 million allocated to the Spence Mountain Forest project in Oregon.
The agency will invest $2.437 million in the Land Acquisition Program this year through one project – the Washington Cascades Project.
Together, these investments conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests and grasslands and enhance recreational access to existing public lands, conserve working timberlands vital for local economies, and protect critical watersheds.
For additional information about the Forest Service implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/gaoa.