Legacy Roads and Trails Program Receives $37.5 Million03-19-24 | News

Legacy Roads and Trails Program Receives $37.5 Million

USDA Announces NFS Program Bud
by Staff

The National Forest System's Legacy Roads and Trails program will receive $37.5 million to preserve watersheds and wildlife on public lands.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that just over half of its $66 million budget from the Investing in America Agenda will go towards improving roads, trails, and bridges in the national forests and grasslands through the Legacy Roads and Trails (LRT) program. After 4 years of receiving virtually no federal funding, the LRT program was granted $40 million in 2022. Though this year's amount of $37.5 million is slightly lower, it will support over 100 projects in 24 states and the District of Columbia aiming to keep national forest roads and trails open.

Many of the 375,000 miles of roads occurring within National Forest System (NFS) lands were originally built to facilitate timber access but now also facilitate recreational activities, fire management, and range administration. In 2008, as the use of these roads changed, the LRT program was inaugurated to restore and maintain vital watersheds contained within national forests and grasslands by improving road and trail resiliency and decommissioning unneeded roads. Decommissioned roads are restored to encourage the growth of native plant species and reconnect previously fragmented habitats while roads that remain are evaluated and often changed to minimize their impact on water quality and wildlife. Most projects involve restoring aquatic passage for threatened species while others include building pedestrian or vehicular bridges over protected aquatic passageways, maintaining emergency roads, and preserving or changing visitor trails to best protect natural resources.