Deputy Minister of Agriculture Dr. Jewel Bronaugh announced that the US Department of Agriculture is investing more than half a billion dollars through the Great American Outdoors Act to address deferred maintenance, improve infrastructure, improve user access and support rural economies while meeting conservation goals.
dr Bronaugh made the announcement near Denny Creek and Franklin Falls hiking trails, both popular recreational spots along the I-90 corridor and part of the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area. The area is part of the Mountains to Sound greenway project, which received more than $14 million from the Great American Outdoors Act in fiscal year 2021. dr Bronaugh announced the area would receive an additional $7.1 million this fiscal year to modernize failing infrastructure and improve experiences for the more than 1.5 million visitors who visit the site each year.
“Projects like this at Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest have had an incredible impact on how visitors experience their national forests and grasslands,” said Dr. “President Biden’s Great American Outdoors Act and bipartisan infrastructure bill are all about America—our special places, our communities, and our people. Along with improved access, facilities and infrastructure, these investments create economic opportunities and good jobs where projects like this have the greatest impact.”
Overall funding for the Great American Outdoors Act is shared 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 the 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.
Learn more about the USDA Forest Service’s work under the Great American Outdoors Act at: www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/gaoa.