Great American Outdoors Act
The Great American Outdoors Act gave the USDA Forest Service new opportunities to deliver benefits to the American public through major investments in recreation infrastructure, public lands access, and land and water conservation. These investments will also contribute to the economic growth and job creation in rural America. GAOA provides permanent full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and establishes a new National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund (LRF) to address the deferred maintenance backlog for 5 federal agencies over the next 5 years.
Legacy Restoration Fund
The Forest Service currently administers more than 370,000 miles of roads, 13,800 bridges, 159,000 miles of trails, 1,700 dams and reservoirs, 1,500 communications sites, 32,000 recreation sites, and 40,000 facilities of other types. The maintenance backlog on this infrastructure is estimated to be $5.9B.
The new Legacy Restoration Fund will allow the Forest Service to improve critical infrastructure that is essential to the use and enjoyment of national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service receives 15 percent of all LRF funds, and for FY21 has received $285 million for deferred maintenance projects. The agency is preparing for up to $285 million of LRF funding to be allocated to the agency annually in the FY22 - FY25 budgets.
For the first year of LRF funding, the Forest Service identified a broad mix of critical infrastructure projects to reduce its deferred maintenance backlog while improving the quality of the visitor experience and contributing to local economies. A total of 556 LRF projects have been authorized by Congress to begin implementation in FY21.
2021 LRF Projects *Reposted on 3/16/21 with minor updates.
More information is available from the regions and forests where these projects are taking place.
R1 - Northern Region
R2 - Rocky Mountain Region
R3 - Southwestern Region
R4 - Intermountain Region
R5 - Pacific Southwest Region
R6 - Pacific Northwest Region
R8 - Southern Region
R9 - Eastern Region
R10 - Alaska Region
Research and Development
Land and Water Conservation Fund
The Great American Outdoors Act secures $900 million in permanent funding each year for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF programs are managed by the Departments of Agriculture and Interior. The Forest Service administers two LWCF programs – the Forest Legacy Program and the Land Acquisition program – that together conserve critical and strategic lands across the nation’s forests and grasslands. Forest Service LWCF projects enhance recreational access to existing public lands, conserve working timberlands vital for local economies, and protect critical watersheds.
For the Forest Legacy program, the agency selected projects through the following process and criteria:
- The Forest Legacy Program works in partnership with State lead agencies.
- Projects are selected through a two-part competitive process – state-level and then national.
- The state level process ensures each project has local support and aligns with state priorities as identified in the State Forest Action Plans and Shared Stewardship agreements.
- The national level process considers defined environmental and economic benefits, strategic contribution to other conservation initiatives on the landscape, and likelihood of conversion to non-forest uses.
- Program funding is provided to states through grants to support program administration and project implementation.
- All lands protected through this program are held and managed by the state through conservation easements or land purchases.
For the Lands Acquisition program, the agency selected projects through the following process and criteria
- The National Forest System Lands Program works with our regional offices and partners to develop projects supporting the needs of local communities.
- Projects are selected through a two-part competitive process – regional-level and then national.
- The regional level process ensures each project has local support and aligns with National Forest System and partner priorities.
- The national level process considers local needs for recreation access, urgency of the acquisition, the level of local support for the acquisition, and other criteria.
For more information, visit:
2021 LWCF Projects