Stimulus Dollars Headed for Washington's Public Lands
The nearly $900 billion stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed by the President early this year contained significant funds for public lands nationwide, including $650 million for Forest Service Capital Programs. Those dollars, as well as money for the National Park Service, are beginning to flow into Washington.
The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will receive $1.2 million for "maintenance and renovation of trails and developed recreation sites". WTA and a number of local non-profit trail organizations are listed as partners. The agency is emphasizing youth employment as part of this stimulus payout.
Another $1.86 million has been slated for Pacific Crest Trail work in Oregon and Washington, routine maintenance and storm damage repair. Again, the Forest Service will be employing youth crews for the bulk of the work on this project. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) will be coordinating the technical aspects of the work and partnering with groups like WTA.
Olympic National Forest has been awarded $600,000 for capital improvement and maintenance programs directed at trail damage caused by seasonal heavy rainfall and constantly encroaching brush.
Finally, Congressman Baird has announced that Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument will receive $6.2 million to repair and upgrade roads, facilities and electrical power systems.
There will likely be more stimulus payouts for public lands as the year moves forward. Combined with likely budget increases above FY 2009 levels, we're beginning to see movement toward ending the slow motion crisis unfolding on National Forest Lands. Real, long-term change will take time, though, and there are any number of obstacles. We'll work with elected officials to surmount those, and keep you tuned in.