$66M Boost for national forests and water quality

USAgNet - 03/11/2024

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed a substantial investment of nearly $66 million aimed at revitalizing the nation’s forest infrastructure and safeguarding water quality. This funding is a key component of the Administrator Investing in America agenda, designed to stimulate economic growth and enhance the natural beauty and utility of national forests and grasslands across 24 states and the District of Columbia.

The funds, allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will be directed toward more than 100 projects. These projects are critical for maintaining and repairing over 160,000 miles of trails, thousands of bridges, and extensive road networks within the national forests. Such improvements are essential not only for recreational access but also for ensuring the health and resilience of these lands against climate impacts.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the initiative's role in ensuring millions continue to enjoy clean water and world-class recreational facilities while benefiting from more resilient infrastructure. The investment is set to enhance the livelihoods of communities surrounding these natural resources, furthering the administration’s commitment to a sustainable and equitable future.

Significant portions of the funding will support the Legacy Roads and Trails Program and the Collaborative Aquatic Restoration Program. These programs focus on improving water quality, restoring habitats, and enhancing watershed health, ultimately supporting the well-being of over 80 million Americans who rely on these forests for clean drinking water.

This effort is critical in mitigating the effects of extreme climate events through infrastructure adaptation and repair, highlighted by Forest Service Chief Randy Moore. The initiative underscores the importance of local collaboration and the USDA’s overarching goals to foster a more resilient, fair, and sustainable food system and natural resource management strategy.

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