Cosponsored by house representatives Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and Tim Walz (D-MN), the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act unanimously passed through the US House Agriculture Committee yesterday, marking a poignant victory for the future of the USFS.
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The news comes as a welcome surprise to those people desperately seeking to confront the US Forest Service’s hundreds of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs. The ultimate goal is to maximize tax payer dollars by making it easy and effortless for volunteers to help maintain and restore trail systems across the 190 million acres of USFS land.
“From hikers to bikers, outdoor enthusiasts across the country utilize 157,000 miles of National Forest System trails every day for exercise, relaxation, and exploration. Though public use remains high, close to two-thirds of these trails don’t receive any maintenance whatsoever because our Forest Service simply lacks the resources to keep up.” – Tim Walz (D-MN)
While this bill is serving as a welcome relief within a highly partisan political atmosphere, the bill has yet to face the House and Senate before the president signs off on the measure.
National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act Goals
- Augment and support the capabilities of federal employees to carry out or contribute to trail maintenance;
- Provide opportunities for volunteers and partners to carry out trail maintenance in each region of the Forest Service.
- Address the barriers to increased volunteerism and partnerships.
- Prioritize increased volunteerism and partnerships in those regions with the most severe trail maintenance needs, and where backlogs are jeopardizing access to national forest lands.
- Aim to increase trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by 100% within 5 years.
Find the entire bill here: National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act