Work on these trails is expected to be completed in October.
“These projects at Snoqualmie Pass are a perfect example of why this funding is so necessary and how the Great American Outdoors Act benefits recreational athletes,” said Betsy Robblee, Conservation Director of The Mountaineers.
Bronaugh chose Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to make the announcement because of what she described as an exceptionally “productive” relationship between the US Forest Service and local partners aimed at providing needed outdoor recreation infrastructure maintenance reach. The Mountains to Sound greenway project, which will improve trailheads, campgrounds and hiking trails along the Interstate 90 corridor, which is visited by 1.5 million people annually, received $21.1 million in funding for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 .
Under the Great American Outdoors Act model, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will coordinate this work, since 90 percent of projects funded by the legislation are carried out by private contractors and non-profit conservation organizations. These partners have raised concerns about the Forest Service’s ability to handle the administrative work caused by hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding.
“The incredible demand and public pressure that the public is putting on our public lands comes on top of a long-standing decline in the staff and capacity of agencies like the Forest Service who are in charge of that land,” said Jon Hoekstra, managing director of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust. The U.S. Forest Service has seen a 40 percent decline in the number of non-fire personnel over the past decade, according to Debbie Hollen, assistant assistant chief of the National Forest System.
“We are working with Congress to prioritize increasing funding not only for the USDA but also for the Department of the Interior to try to not only increase salaries and benefits for our Forest Service employees, but to increase the numbers up and tune up so we can bring them on earlier, but it’s going to take time,” Bronaugh told the Seattle Times.