More Than 50 Forest Maintenance Projects Slated To Begin In Montana
Work to address critical deferred maintenance projects through the Great American Outdoors Act will soon begin on national forests in Montana.
Some conservation experts describe the Great American Outdoors Act as one of the most significant pieces of public lands legislation in a generation.
Passed last summer and signed into law by Former-President Donald Trump, it provides more than $9 billion over the next five years to tackle a long list of deferred maintenance projects at national parks and other federal lands.
Over 50 projects on Montana’s national forests will receive funding through the law.
Montana’s Bitterroot National Forest, for example, has campgrounds, rental cabins and lookouts that are at least 70 years old. And according to Forest spokesman, Tod Mckay, "Those need constant repair and maintenance and fixing up."
Bitterroot Forest officials have announced six local projects will receive about $1.5 million to address deferred maintenance on roads, trails and in developed campgrounds.
Mckay says the timing is perfect.
"Our use numbers this past year during the summer were at record levels. We had, in some cases, 80 - 90 percent increase in use on our campgrounds and hiking trails, and we’re anticipating high numbers again this summer."
However it’s unclear what the total costs will be for all Montana projects outlined in the Great American Outdoors Act.
Kate Jerman is spokesperson for the Lolo National Forest where 12 local projects won funding.
"We don’t know our funding amounts exactly at this time. Additionally about eight of these projects on the Lolo National Forest for the year 2021 will include some sort of bid-to-contract process. We’re going to be going into this with the goal of providing some rural jobs and supporting local communities."
Forest Service economists estimate projects funded under the Great American Outdoors Act will support roughly 4,400 jobs and contribute $420 million to the gross domestic product, nationally.