US National Forests Recieve $503 Million to Support Recreation and Conservation Efforts

The Funding Comes via the Bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act

Image Caption: Image Courtesy of Kraig Becker

Thanks to the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, the US Forest Service is about to see an influx of much-needed cash. The US Department of Agriculture—which oversees the Forest Service—has allocated $503 million to support recreation and conservation of America’s national forests. Those funds will improve visitor access, upgrade infrastructure, and address a long backlog of maintenance issues.

Funding for the Great American Outdoors Act is divided between the Legacy Restoration Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Both endowments are meant to preserve America’s public lands and make them more accessible to visitors.

The Legacy Restoration Fund addresses deferred maintenance on public lands managed by the federal government. For example, money from this pool has gone towards improving campgrounds in Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia and rebuilding roads leading to trails, campgrounds, and wilderness areas in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. So far, the Forest Service has allocated $285 million to 450 projects across 38 states and Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the Land and Water Conservation Fund expands preservation efforts on national, state, and even some public lands. The goal is to acquire more land to provide new outdoor recreation opportunities. For 2022, that means spending $218 million on 25 new projects that will add tens of thousands of acres to national parks and forests. For example, the USDA shares the Montana Great Outdoors Conservation Project, which has opened new wilderness areas for hiking, backpacking, and fishing, while simultaneously protecting wildlife such as grizzly bears, wolves, and lynx.

Great American Outdoors Act

Image Courtesy of Jon Bilous/Getty

“Thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act, we have already seen tremendous impact on our ability to enhance visitor access and land conservation efforts,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore in a press release. “Repairing and enhancing the infrastructure on the national forests and grasslands and expanding forest conservation ensures that the Forest Service continues to meet the need for outdoor recreation for current and future generations.”

These efforts are good news for RVers, who can take advantage of improved roads and campgrounds in US national parks and forests. The Great American Outdoor Act is a multiyear approach to addressing infrastructure and maintenance issues on public lands, and plenty of new projects are already in the planning stages. Expect to see more of these announcements in the future as government agencies reaffirm their commitment to preserving our favorite outdoor spaces.

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