On May 1, 2023, federal investments of more than $36 million in 98 projects to restore water quality and fish habitat—plus renovate roads, trails, bridges—in national forests and grasslands nationwide were announced.
The investments are made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which devotes unprecedented resources to infrastructure improvements.
The funds are delivered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service through their Legacy Roads and Trails Program, to support these 98 regenerative projects in fiscal year 2023.
The program funds projects, along with other restoration and infrastructure work, to improve water quality and aquatic habitat while making transportation systems safer, more sustainable and durable.
In addition to improving roads and trails for communities, businesses, and visitors, the program creates jobs, including those in stream restoration, environmental design and heavy equipment operations.
“President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law continues to make a difference in the lives of Americans, and especially across our national forests and grasslands,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“Through these investments, we are ensuring roads and bridges on national forests and grasslands can withstand the unpredictable climate and weather so visitors and surrounding communities stay safe, and so that millions of Americans continue to enjoy the clean water and recreation opportunities forests and grasslands provide,” he added.
The Legacy Roads and Trails Program supports projects like Little Gold Creek, recently completed on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest in southwest Montana.
This project replaced a narrow culvert on a Forest Service road with a larger, more flood resilient design that provides uninterrupted passage for fish and other aquatic species, including the endangered bull trout, which is being affected by the changing climate.
That project, and others like it, improve infrastructure durability, protect water quality, and ensure public access by preventing roads from flooding and washing out. Replacing culverts also improves access and safety for visitors and surrounding communities.
The Forest Service is responsible for more than 160,000 miles of trails, 6,700 road bridges and 7200 trail bridges, as well as 370,000 miles of roads in a variety of ecological settings and landscapes.
Approximately 80 million people receive drinking water that originates on, or flows through, national forests and grasslands.
The road and trail improvements announced today will improve ecological connectivity and watershed health while protecting infrastructure and ensuring national forests continue to provide drinking water to communities.
The funding announcement is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, and the Administration’s work to build a clean energy economy while creating economic opportunity in communities across the country.
Photo of Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest courtesy of U.S. Forest Service.
See complete list of projects funded in fiscal year 2023 by the Legacy Roads and Trails program.