Great American Outdoors Act in the Northern Region

The USDA Forest Service is moving forward with implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA), which will enable federal land managers to take aggressive steps to address deferred maintenance and other infrastructure projects on national forests and grasslands through 2025.

The Forest Service will use these funds to maximize the benefits experienced by millions of Americans who visit and use their national forests. Projects funded by this act will focus on improving conditions on forest and rangelands, reducing wildfire risk, and increasing the resiliency of our nation’s forests for present and future generations.

2021 Northern Region Great American Outdoors Act Project Highlights

Hi, I’m Lawson McLean I’m the trails program lead here on the Yellowstone Ranger District. So we're up Big Timber Canyon in the Crazy Mountains uh west of Big Timber northwest of Big Timber um. The trail goes up to Blue Lake uh which is one of the primary access points here for day hikers and backpackers and such.
I’m working on a bridge over the Big Timber Creek It's a single stringer, even though it's made of two. A pedestrian bridge designed just for people to get across this creek, so this this bridge makes it a lot more available folks.

Will get used all year including the winter by skiers. The local district trail crew putting together the bridge, it includes some college students, some seasonals have been here for several years. An MCC - Montana Conservation Corps – intern, as well, is helping us build it.

Original bridge was washed away in kind of a 500-year event about three years ago. It was washed out, never to be found, and so we're replacing it this year. The bridge was ordered shortly after the event, but funding restrictions couldn't allow us to fly in with a helicopter until the GAOA Great American Outdoors Act funding came through which allowed us to fly the bridge. Usually flying a bridge can kind of take care of an entire trail season's budget which includes clearing all the trails across the district - about 500 miles that we try to maintain. So yeah, being able to use something like the GAOA was major on getting the bridge in here, and now we're building it approximately six days after it got flown and it'll be ready to use by the end of today, hopefully. It's a great kind of accomplishment. Feels good!

This is the Double Arrow Lookout on the Seeley Lake Ranger District on the Lolo National Forest. This particular lookout gets a lot of attention it's a very popular rental it has stood since 1932 and as with all historic buildings it just needed some love, and so here we are fixing. This is an amazing benefit to the public because the allocation of funds from the Great American Outdoors Act allows us to go out to these fantastic historic structures and repair them. And a lot of these historic structures are very important to the their own communities. They're important to Forest Service history, and they're amazing rentals and they're used constantly, so they they get a lot of hard use. And they need some love now, and these allocations allow us to go out and do that. We can tool up, we can add staff here and there, and we can go out and fix these buildings and they're going to be around for another 100 years. This is one of the most rewarding careers ever because I can come in see a historic building, understand the history, know what's behind it. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to know who designed it, who lived in the building, who was the ranger, what the forest was like at the time, and i can fix it and share it with more people, and that's amazing! I get to show people pictures and go "look what we did!" and they get to enjoy it and it's truly a gift.

[Narrator] Lake Como in the Bitterroot National Forest is one of the most heavily visited areas in the region, and like all well-loved recreation sites across our national forests it needed some attention using Great American Outdoors Act funding we've been able to partner with the Bitterroot Back Country Horseman's group today to improve the Rock Creek Horse Camp.

[Shannon Harris] We're replacing firings that were put in you know probably more than 20 plus years ago that are rusted and they have parts broken some of them are in in such a state that they're almost unusable.

[Bonnie Morgan] This is a very popular campground and lots of people come and enjoy it it's nice for them to come and find nice campgrounds trails that are clear. Since I spend a lot of time here, I ride here a lot, and that would be a worthwhile thing for us to get involved with. So it's nice to know that we can share just beyond the club.

[Shannon Harris] The perception, the visual stimulation, and impact that you get when you come through a campground and you've got better looking equipment, well-placed campsites, it really makes me happy to see the improvements. Stuff that we may or may not have had the funding or the staffing to replace but you know it really helps us get caught up on some of this backlogged maintenance that we need and it really helps us work with those partners that are very vital to the mission and directive of the Forest Service.

Hi. My name is Rory Glueckert, forest recreation program manager on the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. Today I'm standing out here in Gates Park which is a part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and behind me is Headquarters Pass that we're able to ride over today and see some of the great work that's being done on our trails thanks to the Great American Outdoors Act. In 2021 we received 1.1 million dollars to do trail work and deferred maintenance on our trails across the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. Those forests include the Lolo, the Flathead, and the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. That work couldn't be done and made possible without our partners with Montana Conservation Corps and Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation. We've had an amazing season out here and can't wait for the next one.

Fiscal Year 2021 Projects

Authorized and funded Legacy Restoration Funds deferred maintenance projects in the Northern Region that will begin implementation in fiscal year 2021 can be found here.

**Watch this video featuring repairs to Double Arrow Lookout (Lolo National Forest) made possible with fiscal year 2021 GAOA funds!

**Watch this video featuring campground improvements to the Horse Creek Camground (Bitterroot National Forest) made possible with the fiscal year 2021 GAOA funds!

Fiscal Year 2022 Projects

Authorized and funded Legacy Restoration Funds deferred maintenance projects in the Northern Region that will begin implementation in fiscal year 2022 can be found here.

**Read this story about implementing maintenance on hundreds of miles of trail work in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex.

**Read this story about improving recreational opportunities for hikers in the Lochsa River Corridor.

Fiscal Year 2023 Projects

Legacy Restoration Funds deferred maintenance projects proposed for fiscal year 2023 have been included in the Forest Service fiscal year 2023 Congressional Budget Justification, starting on document page 209, and can be found here.

For more information on the Great American Outdoors Act, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/gaoa.


Dashboard Great American Outdoors Act (arcgis.com)

Project Stories Great American Outdoors Act (arcgis.com)

Northern Region (R1) Presentation to Montana Forest Collaboration Network

Montana Forest Collaboration Network Presentation | November 2021

Northern Region (R1) Public Information Sessions

Idaho GAOA Public Information Session Video | June 2021

Montana GAOA Public Information Session Video | June 2021

North and South Dakota GAOA Public Information Session Video | June 2021