This press release by the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region came out on March 14, but no one noticed it right away. Needless to say, we’ll be following up on this.
Short version: The public has until April 5, 2017 to submit ideas and comments “to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.” It looks like Kent Wellner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (406) 329-3150 is the primary Northern Region point of contact for this.
Here’s the full text of the release . . .
Partners, volunteers integral to addressing maintenance backlog
MISSOULA, MONT. – The Northern Region is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.
Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance has contributed to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.
The Northern Region manages more than 28,000 miles of trails enjoyed by residents and visitors alike and includes opportunities for year-round motorized and non-motorized trail use of all types. In the Northern Region, volunteers and partner groups contributed approximately 112,000 hours of service maintaining trails in 2016.
”We’ve already received some ideas from our partners,” said Northern Regional Forester Leanne Marten, “and we’d like to hear more. Our volunteers and partners help make this Region great and are critical components to the trail maintenance program. We look forward to hearing from additional organizations and individuals in the coming weeks.”
The Northern Region has until April 15 to submit at least three regional proposals to National Headquarters. Those proposals will be weighed against proposals submitted by other Forest Service regions.
The trail maintenance effort is outlined in the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016 and includes a national goal of a twofold increase in trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by the end of 2021.
The selected areas will be part of the initial, national focus that will include a mosaic of areas with known trail maintenance needs that include areas near urban and remote areas, such as wilderness, are of varying sizes and trail lengths, are motorized and non-motorized, and those that incorporate a varied combination of partner and volunteer approaches and solutions.
The Forest Service manages more than 158,000 miles of trail – the largest trail system in the nation – providing motorized and non-motorized trail access across 154 national forests and grasslands. These Forest Service trails are well-loved and highly used with more than 84 million trail visits annually, helping to support mostly rural economies.
The Forest Service receives widespread support from tens of thousands of volunteers and partners each year who, in 2015, contributed nearly 1.4 million hours – a value of about $31.6 million – in maintenance and repair of nearly 30,000 miles of trails.
However, limited funding compounded by the rising cost of wildfire operations, has resulted in less than 25 percent of Forest Service trails meeting all of the agency’s standards for safety, quality recreation and economic and environmental sustainability. The remaining trails meet standard to varying degrees.
To provide ideas and suggestions on potential priority areas and approaches for incorporating increased trail maintenance assistance from partners and volunteers, contact your local Forest Service office or Kent Wellner, Regional Trail Program Manager, by April 5th. Kent can be reached at email@example.com or (406) 329-3150.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.