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USDA Investing to Improve National Forest and Grassland Infrastructure

Dan Cattle, Forestry, USDA

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced they will invest $285 million to help the Forest Service address critical deferred maintenance and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure on national forests and grasslands.

The investment is made possible by the newly created National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, established in 2020 by the Great American Outdoors Act. The funds will allow the Forest Service to implement more than 500 infrastructure improvement projects essential to the continued use and enjoyment of national forests and grasslands.

“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,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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.

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These investments will also serve as a catalyst for rural economic development and employment opportunities.”

Project investments in 2021 will improve recreation facilities, visitor centers, dams, and trails. Other projects aim to increase public access by restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges, tunnels, and parking areas.

The Great American Outdoors Act authorizes funding under the Legacy Restoration Fund annually through the fiscal year 2025. Forest Service economists estimate that projects funded with these dollars will support roughly 4,400 jobs and contribute $420 million to the gross domestic product.

More information about these projects will be posted this week at www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/gaoa.