USDA Invests $285M to improve national forest and grassland infrastructure

U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farm Forum

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $285 million to help the Forest Service address critically deferred maintenance and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure on national forests and grasslands.

This $285 million 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. These 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,” Secretary Vilsack said. “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. 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 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.

Forest Service infrastructure supports more than 300 million recreationists, first responders such as wildland firefighters, and other users of Forest Service roads. Each year, visitors to the national forests contribute almost $11 billion to the U.S. economy, which sustains more than 148,000 jobs.

More information about these projects can be found at www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/gaoa.