The Sawtooth National Forest received $1.1 million last week from the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund to help fund five infrastructure improvement projects over the next five years.
Forest Service spokeswoman Julie Thomas said those include bridge replacement and repair, trail restoration and upgrades to aging campsite facilities across the 756,000-acre Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
The Legacy Restoration Fund was established in 2020 as part of the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and signed by President Donald Trump last August.
“In Idaho, we are blessed with amazing public lands and this legislation will ensure that future generations will be able to enjoy them as we have,” Simpson said shortly after the legislation passed.
The $1.1 million received by the Sawtooth National Forest is a small fraction of the $285 million divvied up among national forests and grasslands this spring. The National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund—administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture—was specifically formed to repair thousands of miles of trails, deteriorating campground infrastructure and other high-priority, backlogged projects across the country. The fund itself is bankrolled by new oil, gas, coal and alternative energy development on federal land that otherwise would be deposited in the U.S. Treasury General Account, according to the Outdoors Act.
Visitors to national forests contribute around $11 billion to the U.S. economy every year and help sustain over 148,000 jobs, according to the USDA. By addressing long-overdue maintenance needs, the Sawtooth National Forest could improve visitor experience and boost its own revenues, Forest Supervisor Jim DeMaagd said in a statement on March 29.
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