PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The U.S. Forest Service will receive $54 million to address deferred maintenance projects in Oregon and Washington, thanks to newly awarded funding from the Great American Outdoors Act. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the latest projects to be funded by the act on June 6. 

The money will go toward 72 projects in Oregon and Washington during the first two years of funding under the act. 

“This substantial backlog of deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, and recreation facilities on public lands impairs our ability to provide outdoor recreation opportunities, respond to wildfires, and support rural economic prosperity. These important investments will help us do our part in fulfilling America’s commitment to maintaining national forests and grasslands for the benefit of people today, and for future generations,” Lisa Northrup, USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region deputy regional forester said in a press release. 

Some of the Great American Outdoor investments in the Pacific Northwest for fiscal years 2021 and 2022 include: 

  • $9.92 million toward 18 Great American Outdoors Act projects in five national forests in Washington. 
  • $27.69 million for 46 different projects in 11 national forests and one national scenic area in Oregon. 
  • $16.41 million for eight projects at the Pacific Northwest recreational level. 

Some of the projects funded in Oregon include $2.4 million for the Ochoco National Forest in the fiscal year 2022. This money will go toward road maintenance on high recreation and timber roads. The Siuslaw National Forest received $650,000 for roof and gutter repairs and replacements at several visitor centers. Mt. Hood National Forest received $4.8 million to continue critical boiler system updates at the historic Timberline Lodge. 

In Washington, $1.55 million is going to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest for continued road, bridge, recreation site, and trail work along the South Fork Stillaguamish River and Mountain Loop Highway corridor. The forest also received $480,000 for deferred maintenance work, a trail bridge, and dam rehabilitation at the Heather Meadows Trail recreation site. The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest received $150,000 in the fiscal year 2022 for work on the Selkirks to Surf: North Cascades Recreation Scenic Corridor project. The Gifford Pinchot National Forest received $970,000 for water system repairs at the La Wis Wis campground. 

“This investment in 26 projects across Washington state’s forests and public lands will improve access to our world-renowned parks, forests, historic sites and trails,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) wrote in a statement. “Our public lands are major economic drivers – more than 200,000 jobs hinge on their maintenance and preservation.” 

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area also received funding from the act. It will support replacing restroom facilities at popular recreation sites and will relocate the Dog Mountain Trailhead to address congestion and safety concerns at the popular recreation site. 

The funding from the Great American Outdoor Act will also provide $500,000 to improve aquatic organism passage in Washington and Oregon, which will help fund projects that remove barriers that block the upstream passage of many species, including salmon, steelhead and laphrey.  

The $54 million awarded to projects in the Pacific Northwest is part of the $503 million the USDA awarded to projects across the country through the Great American Outdoors Act. 

Former President Donald Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law on Aug. 5, 2020. The act authorizes up to $1.9 billion annually for five years to fund deferred maintenance for critical facilities and infrastructure in national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, recreation areas, and American Indian schools.