Dolly Sods Wilderness, part of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.
A road through the Dolly Sods Wilderness, part of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. © Kent Mason

Newsroom

Lawmakers Propose New Investment in Forest Roads

Bipartisan FOREST Act would boost dedicated funding for road infrastructure

Arlington, Va.

A bipartisan pair of House lawmakers introduced legislation on Friday to increase funding for maintaining road infrastructure within U.S. Forest Service lands.

The Funding Our Roads and Ecosystems Sustainably Together (FOREST) Act, H.R. 5334, by Reps. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., and Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif., would dedicate $1.3 billion over five years to maintaining and repairing forest roads critical to wildfire mitigation, outdoor recreation and water quality.

“The FOREST Act is the shot in the arm our forest road infrastructure desperately needs,” said Cecilia Clavet, senior policy advisor at The Nature Conservancy. “When roads are damaged, destroyed or made otherwise unusable, access to national forests is limited. That lack of access can hamper wildfire response efforts and harm local economies that depend on forests.”

There are more than 370,000 miles of roads within the U.S. National Forest System. More than 1.7 million vehicles driving on these roads every day, bringing people in to hunt, hike, fish and explore national forests, making recreation the largest use of forest roads. Despite this intense use, less than 20 percent of roads through national forests are fully maintained to planned safety and environmental standards.

“Greater investment in repairing and maintaining forest roads will help preserve wildlife habitats, expand recreational access, combat wildfires and clean America's water,” added Clavet. “We applaud the cosponsors for coming together to introduce this legislation and look forward to working with congressional leaders to enact this critical investment in our forest roads.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.