American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)

Recovery Act Programs on the Bitterroot National Forest - Building an Infrastructure to Enhance Forest Management and Job Creation in Southwest Montana

The Recovery Act (officially passed in Congress as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009) provided nearly $10 million dollars to the Bitterroot National Forest for implementation of projects designed to create and retain jobs in the Forest area. Some projects started in late 2009 but the majority of the work occurred this summer (2010) across the Forest.  The public will notice work projects and activities happening on all Ranger Districts (RD).  Goals of the program include:

  • Enhancing access to recreational opportunities on the National Forest.
  • Providing for visitor safety.
  • Helping address maintenance issues at developed recreation sites.
  • Improving water quality in streams and rivers and reducing erosion.     
  • Creating and retaining jobs.

Road Related Projects - The Bitterroot National Forest received approximately $3.6 million for roads related projects. These projects involve resurfacing and reconstructing miles of road, replacing three bridges, improving road and highway signs, treating invasive plant species along roadsides, refurbishing trailheads near roads – all aimed at improving public access to National Forest System lands.  Projects include the following:


Ravalli County Facility Projects

  • $3.4 million to update 23 Forest Service administrative facilities  built in the 1950’s and currently in disrepair. 
  • Work includes upgrades to improve safety for forest visitors and employees, making the facilities energy efficient and environmentally-friendly, and reducing deferred maintenance. 
  • Project also includes reconstructing or refurbishing numerous recreation sites, campgrounds, and historic buildings.
  • Install new pavilion, outhouse, picnic tables, group fire ring, gravel pathways and parking areas at Rock Creek Group Site at Lake Como.
  • Reconstruct Upper Como Campground including replacing fire rings and picnic tables, installing 4 walk-in tent camp sites, 2 new outhouses, and a new loop with additional camp sites (doubling current capacity).
  • Install new boat dock and expand Lake Como Boat Launch Parking Area.
  • Construct new picnic area shelter at East Fork Guard Station on the Sula Ranger District.
  • Restoration of Historic Woods Cabin at Lake Como.
  • Replacing old information boards, registration boxes and interpretive signs forest wide. 
  • New surfacing of road and parking spurs at Warm Springs Campground.

Partners:  Trapper Creek Jobs Corps and Back Country Horsemen


Ravalli County Roads Project

  • $2.8 million to address critical needs for roadways on the Forest.
  • Reconstruct three timber bridges (Indian Creek, Sheephead Creek, Swift Creek).
  • Forest wide brushing of road corridors, gravel work, sign replacement, and herbicide application to treat invasive weeds.
  • Reconstruct trailhead parking area and horse trailer pull through parking at Mill Canyon.  Surfacing of Forest Road 1328 and installing trailhead information signs.      

Partners:  Ravalli County Weed District, Trapper Creek Job Corps, and Back Country Horsemen. 


NW Montana Trail Maintenance and Reconstruction 

$500,000 for trail improvement and rehabilitation work.

Forest-wide on motorized, non-motorized, wilderness, and non-wilderness trails.  Projects included installing drainage features, removing downfall trees, relocating trails away from environmentally sensitive riparian areas and reconstructing washed-out trails.  

Improvements to Bass Creek Recreation Area including:

  • Paving existing parking spurs and asphalt seal coating at Charles Waters Campground.
  • Paving Group Site parking lot, expanding Horse Trailer Parking and resurfacing Forest Road #1136 at Larry Creek.

Partners:  Montana Conservation Corps and Back Country Horsemen.


Montana Roads Restoration Project 

$900,000 to fund much needed work on high use, high priority Forest Service roads.  Work included reconditioning 8 miles of Rye Creek Road to restore public safety and extend the useful life of the road.  Project also improved water quality and critical fish habitat by reducing sediment flowing into streams and improving drainage. 


Timber Stewardship Project – Middle East Fork Hazardous Fuel Reduction

$2.1 million to thin small diameter trees to reduce fuels and the likelihood that intense, stand-replacing crown fires would result when wildfires occur.  Project had several objectives including:

  • Reduce wildland fire threats to the Middle East Fork community.
  • Restore fire-adapted ecosystems in the Middle East Fork landscape.
  • Restore stands affected by the Doulas-fir bark beetle epidemic by treating infested areas and lands at imminent risk of spread to promote healthy ecosystem function, composition and structure.

Project focused on the removal of fuel - dead and dying Douglas-fir - helping protect private property and improve firefighter and public safety. 


Swift Creek Project 

$140,000 to improve soil conditions and remove excess small diameter trees in 1966 terraced plantations.  Thinning smaller trees improves the health and vigor of the pine stand, reducing future risk of pine beetle mortality. 

Benefits also include improved soil conditions, increase forage for deer and elk, and reduced hazards from wildland fire.  Approximately 75% of trees removed in Swift Creek will be recycled for energy, fence posts, and lumber.  Soil conditions are being improved by the addition of coarse woody debris and by fracturing compacted sub-surface soil layers.

Partners:  Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Ravalli County Resource Advisory Committee.

Key Contacts

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Picnic Shelter at Rock Creek - Darby Ranger District

Picnic Shelter at Rock Creek - Darby Ranger District

Picnic Shelter at East Fork Guard Station - Sula Ranger District

Picnic Shelter at East Fork Guard Station - Sula Ranger District

New Recreation Bulletin Board

New Recreation Bulletin Board