Washington Wild is a founding member of the Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative (WWRI), a coalition of environmental and outdoor recreation groups and state agencies working to advocate for federal funding to maintain Forest Service roads and trails that provide access and reclaim old and decaying logging roads to re-establish healthy ecosystems.
THE PROBLEM: There are nearly 370,000 miles of Forest Service roads crisscrossing our national forests, including 22,000 miles here in Washington State — many of them left over from the peak timber harvests of decades past. That amounts to almost eight times the U.S. federal highway system.
Our forest roads need to be maintained, but the Forest Service currently faces a backlog of road maintenance that is upwards of $8 billion nationwide including at least $300 million in Washington State. These unmaintained legacy roads have significant negative impacts on local watersheds (including impacts from blown-out culverts) which can:
- Block fish passage
- Pour sediment into salmon streams which smothers fish eggs
- Cause landslides
- Degrade downstream community drinking water
THE SOLUTION: Since 2008, the Legacy Roads and Trails Program received $430 million nationally, with national forests in Washington receiving nearly $30 million. In Washington alone, these funds have maintained more than 2,000 miles of access roads, decommissioned more than 250 miles of high aquatic risk and failing legacy roads, upgraded more than 100 miles of trails, and fixed more than 50 stream crossings and bridges, effectively restoring fish passage.