USDA allots $503 million to enhance out of doors recreation and conservation on nationwide forests

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The US Department of Agriculture is investing more than half a billion dollars through the Great American Outdoors Act to address delayed maintenance, improve infrastructure, improve user access, and support rural economies while meeting conservation goals.

Overall funding for the Great American Outdoors Act is split between the Legacy Restoration Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

“Thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act, we’re already having a tremendous impact on our ability to improve visitor access and land conservation efforts through the Legacy Restoration Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund projects,” said Randy Moore, director of the forest service. “Repairing and improving infrastructure in the national forests and grasslands and expanding forest protection will ensure that the Forest Service continues to meet the outdoor recreation needs of present and future generations.”

The Legacy Restoration Fund is focused on addressing the deferred maintenance backlog on federally managed public lands, providing $285 million for 450 projects in 38 states and Puerto Rico. In addition to work on the Mountains to Sound greenway project, examples include improving campgrounds in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest and rebuilding roads leading to popular hiking trails, campgrounds and wilderness areas in New Mexico’s Gila National Forest. For more information on these and other Legacy Restoration Fund programs, visit this easy-to-use online dashboard.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has received ongoing funding from the Great American Outdoors Act and extends Forest Service conservation efforts to national, state, and private lands through voluntary land acquisitions. This fiscal year, the Forest Service is investing $218 million in these programs and launching 25 new projects to create new fishing, hunting and recreational opportunities on tens of thousands of acres nationwide. One example is the Montana Great Outdoors Conservation Project, a $20 million investment to improve public access to Montana’s forests for hiking, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, berry picking and more. The project both improves access to previously segregated areas and protects land from non-forest use, which is home to many species of concern, including grizzly bears, Canadian lynx, gray wolves and several species of fish.