“We applaud Reps. Schrier, Simpson and Kilmer’s legislation to restore funding to the Forest Service’s Legacy Roads and Trails Program,” said Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations. “This legislation is a victory for threatened and endangered species and recreationists across the country.”

Washington, DC

Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.), Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.) reintroduced a bill today to authorize funding for the Legacy Roads and Trails Act. Legacy Roads and Trails Act (LRT) provides funding for the Forest Service to repair and maintain failing infrastructure that is causing adverse impacts, including on drinking water and fish and wildlife habitat. About 66 million Americans rely on our national forests for clean drinking water.

For a decade, the LRT Program supported restoration infrastructure projects that created high-paying jobs in rural communities until the program was essentially eliminated in 2018. LRT funded projects that improved stream water quality, reconnected waterways for fish migration, and road and trail maintenance to enable greater access to our national forests. 

“In Washington state, this program has been particularly impactful while facilitating hundreds of culvert repairs for fish passage ‒ including salmon. Headwaters located in national forests are critical to salmon populations downstream,” said Rep. Kim Schrier, M.D. (WA-08). “Chronic underfunding has left a long backlog of projects and I’m proud to present this solution. As we face the increasing threat of climate change and the need to improve our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, we must ensure programs like LRT are part of the dialogue. This is a big win for our environment, our fish, and our forests. I look forward to reintroducing it on the House floor.”

The U.S. Forest Service manages a massive road and trail system on behalf of the American public, including more than 370,000 miles of roads, 159,000 miles of trails, hundreds of thousands of culverts and more than 13,000 bridges. Too much of this infrastructure is in disrepair.

“We applaud Reps. Schrier, Simpson and Kilmer’s legislation to restore funding to the Forest Service’s Legacy Roads and Trails Program,” said Robert Dewey, vice president for government relations. “This legislation is a victory for threatened and endangered species and recreationists across the country.”

The LRT Program supported 330-528 jobs annually across the nation, bringing dollars and increased employment to communities near national forests. The program saved America’s taxpayers $3 million per year in road maintenance costs by reducing infrastructure liability. LRT projects reclaimed over 7,000 miles of unneeded roads to prevent sediment from polluting waterways, fixed culverts at over 1,000 road/stream crossings to restore endangered fish habitat and repaired over 5,000 miles of trails to better enable all Americans to enjoy their national forests and grasslands.

The administration has made climate change a priority and LRT can help address some of the impacts of climate change on communities. Rebuilding America’s deteriorating national forest infrastructure through targeted programs like LRT is essential to restoring resilience to ecosystems, wildlife as well as human communities now experiencing impacts from flooding and other extreme events associated with climate change. The program would fix road and stream crossing helping to create flood resiliency, improve watersheds resulting in cleaner drinking water and restored fish habitat, create approximately 1,500 contractor jobs and ensure access to trails by improving road and stream crossings. 

 

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

Media Contact

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Gwen Dobbs
Gwen Dobbs
Director of Media Relations
gdobbs@defenders.org
(202) 772-0269

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