$157 Million Stimulus for NW Forests
Last week, we received great news on economic stimulus and its potential for making a huge impact Forest Service budgets in Washington State.
On Friday, Forest Service Region 6 (which covers national forests in Oregon and Washington) announced that they had been awarded $157 million as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act--otherwise known as the second stimulus bill. Of those funds, about $43 million is dedicated to road maintenance and repair on national forests in Oregon and Washington. This is fantastic news, and these funds should be a huge boost to help land managers deal with the backlog of maintenance to roads in our region, including those damaged by storms in 2003 and 2006.
The breakdown of the funds awarded to Region 6 looks something like this:
- Hazardous fuels reduction and mitigation - $51.7 million
- Forest Health - $23.6 million
- Abandoned mines - $8.5 million
- Road maintenance - $43.3 million
- Biomass projects - $15.3 million
- Ecosystem/watershed enhancement/fuels reduction -$14.5 million
To put this all in perspective, the Region 6 annual budget is $456 million, so these funds represent at least a 30 percent increase. According to Tom Knappenberger, public information officer with Region 6, the region had applied for about 300 different projects worth $425 million. The emphasis was on projects that could get underway quickly and would provide employment--the report from Region 6 estimates the funds would create at least 2,700 jobs region-wide. More stimulus project awards may be announced later this spring.
These funds are in addition to $17 million in trails projects previously awarded from the first round of stimulus, or TARP. The current award of funds was part of more than $1.1 billion in economic stimulus funds budgeted to the Forest Service for construction, maintenance, and hazardous forest fire fuel reduction projects nationwide.
Washington hikers owe a big thank-you to all of the state's congressional delegation who crafted and voted for this stimulus bill. Find them here. Special thanks goes to the sixth congressional district's Norm Dicks, who as chair of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee has been a tireless advocate for increased funding for public lands.