The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to invest $285 million to help the Forest Service address critical deferred maintenance and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure on national forests and grasslands.
[Above photo by the U.S. Forest Service.]
That funding comes from the newly created National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, established in 2020 by the Great American Outdoors Act.
The USDA noted that the Great American Outdoors Act authorizes funding under the Legacy Restoration Fund annually through fiscal year 2025, with Forest Service economists estimating that the funding will support roughly 4,400 jobs and contribute $420 million to the nation’s gross domestic product.
The agency added that projects targeted for investments in 2021 include improvements to recreation facilities, visitor centers, dams and trails, as well as restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges, tunnels, and parking areas.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that the funding will help the Forest Service implement more than 500 infrastructure improvement projects “essential” to the continued use and enjoyment of national forests and grasslands – adding that visitors to U.S. national forests contribute almost $11 billion to the nation’s economy annually, helping sustain more than 148,000 jobs.
“Our forests and grasslands are one of our nation’s greatest treasures and one of the most effective natural carbon captures that exist to help combat the effects of climate change,” the secretary noted.
“Millions of people each year enjoy forests and grasslands, and these investments will promote public-private partnerships, tourism and recreation, protect public lands, and ensure our national forests are accessible to all,” he said. “These investments will also serve as a catalyst for rural economic development and employment opportunities.”