Thursday, July 30, 2009

Economic Recovery Projects Benefit Forest Trails, Facilities

The American Alpine Institute just received the following email from Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest:

Everett, WA, July 30, 2009 –Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will receive $1.25 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for forest facilities and trails. “This will improve access for our public while helping our local communities,” said Forest Supervisor Rob Iwamoto.

Following are the projects on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, the county they will be located in, and the estimated funding received. Work will start this summer and is expected to be completed in two years. This list is designated by project, county and funding:

North end trail maintenance Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish $150,000

North end facilities maintenance Skagit, Whatcom, Snohomish $310,000

Skykomish trail maintenance Snohomish $119,300

Skykomish developed recreation trailhead maintenance Snohomish/King $157,000

Skykomish dispersed recreation improvements Snohomish/King $25,500

South end trail maintenance King/Pierce $136,000

Forest wide hazard-tree removal Forestwide $80,000

Tinkham campground area repair King $35,000

Middle Fork campground day-use area repair King $80,000

South end trails and trailhead maintenance King/Pierce $158,000

“These Recovery Act projects are central to creating jobs and building a better, stronger economy in the future,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack when he announced the projects last week. Funded at more than $274 million, the 191 projects are located throughout the US Forest Service in 32 states.

“These projects exemplify President Obama’s commitment to sustainability, reducing our environmental footprint, and increasing energy efficiency, which will benefit the 178 million people who visit the National Forests each year, while generating additional tourism and stimulating local economies.”

The Forest Service trails system provides access to a wide diversity of users including hikers, horseback riders, mountain bikers, cross-country skiers, snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts. In many ways, the benefits of maintaining the trails system are similar to those of roads. Trail maintenance includes protecting soils and reducing erosion, along with clearing vegetation, controlling invasive species, and removing downed trees. Repairs and upgrades to trail head and parking areas will improve access and safety for trail users. All of this is labor-intensive work requiring skilled workers to be hired under ARRA.

The ARRA directs the Forest Service to improve, maintain and renovate public and administrative facilities. As with the roads and trails system, there is currently a large backlog of maintenance needs for public facilities. Maintenance needs were identified through extensive studies of specific public facilities needed to support the primary outdoor activities that are best provided on the National Forests and grasslands.

Workers hired under ARRA will maintain facilities so that they contribute to safe, high quality outdoor experiences for citizens. Once work is completed these buildings will be more energy efficient, use less water, have a smaller environmental footprint and save taxpayer money.

Information on other Forest Service ARRA projects and related economic recovery can be found at:

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