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WA Wild Advocates for Funding Urgently Needed in Our National Forests

Last week, Washington Wild hand-delivered letters to each member of Washington’s congressional delegation in Washington D.C., urging support for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program. Undersigned by 244 local elected officials, businesses, and conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations, the comment letter coordinated by Washington Wild calls for allocating $100 million in funding in the FY2025 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill.

The current state of a forest road in Olympic National Forest, courtesy of The Outdoor Society

THE PROBLEM—Washed-Out Roads and Blocked Fish Passage

Built during the heyday of logging, nearly 370,000 miles of roads—nearly eight times the mileage of the Interstate Highway System—crisscross our national forests. The U.S. Forest Service inherited this infrastructure from the logging industry but has never had the resources to maintain it. Left to fall into disrepair, the legacy of these forest roads and trails are clogged culverts blocking fish passage, erosion of critical riparian habitat leading to poor water quality, and washed-out roads that limit public access.

Nationwide, the U.S. Forest Service has identified a backlog of over $4.4 billion in deferred maintenance projects, with more than 400 high-priority culvert projects requiring nearly $110 million for just one year. And as the climate crisis continues to progress, fueling extreme weather events such as flooding and wildfires, these roads that are already in rough shape continue to take a beating. The longer we wait to act, the bigger and more severe the problem becomes. 

THE SOLUTION—The Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program

Founded in 2008, the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation program is a targeted, results-oriented, and collaborative solution to this issue. For the next ten years, the Legacy Roads and Trails program received $430 million nationally, with $32 million invested in Washington’s National Forests. Creating hundreds of high-paying jobs, local contractors were able to upgrade over 100 miles of trails, fix 55 stream crossings and bridges, decommission 250 miles of failing roads, and maintain over 2,000 miles of roads. These improvements helped protect drinking water for communities throughout the state, restore critical riparian habitat, restore fish passage to spawning grounds, and ensure safe access for U.S. Forest Service staff and outdoor enthusiasts to our beloved public lands.

Photo: WTA volunteer crew repairing the Martin Creek Trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, U.S. Forest Service

THE ASK—$100 Million in Funding for Fiscal Year 2025

Each year, Congress must pass an Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill that provides funding for federal agencies such as the EPA, Department of the Interior, US Forest Service, and many others. Last year, funding for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program only amounted to $6 million nationwide which didn’t even come close to meeting the urgent need. Coordinating a letter signed by 244 elected officials, local businesses, and conservation, recreation, and wildlife organizations, Washington Wild is urging our members of Congress to include $100 million in funding for the Legacy Roads and Trails program for FY 2025.