Recreation Groups Ask Congress To Help Forest Service

March 27, 2014

(Photo courtesy of the United States Department of Agriculture)
Forests like the Apache-Sitgreaves in Arizona could benefit from some help.

Recreation groups have sent a letter to Congress suggesting a partnership they say could help the Forest Service dig out of its trail maintenance backlog, at a very low cost.  A U.S. Government Accountability Office report says repairs are needed on nearly 75 percent of trails in the nation’s forests, including many in Arizona’s Apache-Sitgreaves and Coronado national forests. 

Paul Spitler of the Wilderness Society said when trails have eroded or are blocked by fallen trees or overgrown vegetation, access disappears.
 
"Really, what we're looking for is creative solutions that don't cost any money but can really help put a dent in this major problem we're facing on our public lands," Spitler said.

The GAO estimates it could cost $300 million to repair the trail maintenance backlog, and Spitler said it has been made clear funding for the projects is not on the way. He said the letter outlines how legislation could set up volunteer programs that include training.