December 2023

(Photo credit: Mike Passo, American Trails)


Legacy Restoration Fund Tackling Maintenance Backlog

On Aug. 4, 2020, the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was enacted into law, becoming the most significant investment in public lands in United States history. As a result, the GAOA established the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund and funded it for five years to combat the maintenance backlog across five land management agencies. The U.S. Forest Service has completed 147 deferred maintenance projects, with nearly 850 underway across 42 states and Puerto Rico. These combined projects are estimated to address $635 million of the maintenance backlog and contribute approximately $350 million annually to the gross domestic product. The much-needed funding will allow agencies to perform timely maintenance to mitigate deterioration so all can safely enjoy public lands.

Through FY23, 37 motorized and non-motorized infrastructure projects totaling $20M have been funded, and over the next several months, we will feature the projects in ARRA newsletters. Click here to find, explore, and check the status of a legacy restoration fund project. Below are the projects featured this month:

Bonners Ferry Trail Reconstruction ($155,000)

Idaho Panhandle National Forest, Idaho

The Bonners Ferry Trail Reconstruction (Project #959) project addresses outstanding maintenance items on the Canyon Creek, Red Top, Bussard, Rutledge, and Grouse Mountain Trails. The trails provide recreation opportunities for hikers, stock users, mountain bikers, and motorbikes. Project work includes reconstructed trail tread, reroutes of steep trail segments suffering severe erosion, switchbacks reconstructed with turning radius appropriate to the mode of travel, etc.

Cinder Hills Off-Highway Vehicle Area Improvement Project ($220,000)

Coconino National Forest, Arizona

The project entails conducting survey and design work for trailhead amenities and boundary fencing where needed, developing a Special Recreation Permit management plan, conducting public involvement and partnership collaboration, and installing trailhead amenities and boundary fencing (especially between Sunset Crater – NPS site). Ultimately, the project objective is to have suitable amenities at the Cinder Hills off-highway vehicle area and designate it as a Special Recreation Permit site with a fair market entry fee to provide a sustainable funding source to support the operation, maintenance, and monitoring of recreation activities in this area.

Cordova Trail Deferred Maintenance ($200,000)

Chugach National Forest, Alaska

This project aims to improve the line of sight for popular motorized and non-motorized trails in the Cordova Ranger District. This project addresses deferred maintenance on four trails within the same trail network. Upon completion, this project will improve access to national forest system lands, provide outfitter guide access, give a better line of sight for all-terrain vehicle use, and reduce encounters with bears.

Critical Deferred Maintenance on Glacier Ranger District Winter Trails ($40,000)

Chugach National Forest, Alaska

Project work is occurring along the Turnagain Snowmachine Trail and the Turnagain Pass Trail, which are both part of the longer Iditarod National Historic Trail Southern Trek trail system. Upon completion, this project will complete brushing, logging out, and other deferred maintenance tasks for multiple winter trails.

Delmoe Lake Road Resurfacing and Campground/Day Use Updates ($50,000)

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Montana

This project will add gravel over the entirety of the road. The project will increase maintainability, reduce erosion, and provide a safer route for the high volumes of traveling public. This project would bring the campground and associated boat launch and day-use site up to current design and accessibility standards. A full redesign will incorporate off-highway vehicle use and link the campground to the motorized trail system. Replacement-only level of design could include replacement of hand pumps, replacement/ repair tables and fire rings, reconstruction of spur roads and living areas, including tent pads, and replacement signage and bulletin boards, fee stations, and toilets. The project would also improve campground roads and boat launch parking. The project provides enhanced service delivery to the recreating public, accommodates today’s RVs and trailers, and replaces unserviceable and damaged furnishings. This campground and day-use area contributes to rural community tourism in the Delmoe Lake area near Butte & Whitehall, Mont. This project increases access to recreation resources by improving the quality of the facility and access to the lake and bringing the facility up to meet ADA accessibility standards. Reconstructed facilities would be safer for visitors by replacing damaged furnishings, replacing older toilets, and reducing vandalism and abuse that the deteriorating facility currently receives.


Bicameral Coalition Submits Amicus Brief

A bicameral coalition led by Reps. Cliff Bentz (Ore.-02) and Dan Newhouse (Wash.-04) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, urging the Court to hear two essential and critical cases challenging the president’s misuse of the Antiquities Act to establish National Monuments. These cases, American Forest Resource Council v. United States of America and Murphy Company v. Biden, present a clear opportunity for the court to establish limits on presidential authority and uphold the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine. Specifically, the main arguments of the amicus brief are that the court should not let the executive branch usurp Congress’s power over federal lands and that the Constitution gives Congress the plenary authority to manage federal lands.

“The Constitution makes it clear that Congress, not the President, makes our laws. The president’s job is not to make laws but to enforce them. Yet, in recent years, presidents have increasingly usurped congressional authority by using the Antiquities Act to ‘Monumentize’ millions upon millions of acres of public land, rendering massive areas largely untouchable. This blatant disregard for the will of the people is an affront to the Constitution,” stated Rep. Bentz. “In this brief, we urge the Supreme Court to hear these cases and to make it clear that the president cannot circumvent Congress by rewriting our nation’s public land laws with the stroke of a pen. This is about upholding the Constitution, protecting our public lands from being left to burn up, and that they can be properly managed with their best interest in mind.”

The amicus brief highlights several vital concerns:

  • Presidential Overreach: The president’s recent national monument designation in Oregon overrides Congress’s directive for managing these lands, specifically the O&C Act, which mandates sustained-yield timber production to generate revenue for rural communities. The president’s actions set a dangerous precedent of executive overreach on all federal lands and waters.
  • Economic Devastation: The president’s monument designation cripples forest-dependent communities and exacerbates the wildfire crisis by severely limiting essential forest management practices.
  • Constitutional Violation: The Constitution vests Congress, not the president, with the power to regulate federal lands. This case is an opportunity for the Supreme Court to reaffirm the separation of powers and protect the rights of American citizens.

Joining Reps. Cliff Bentz and Dan Newhouse, in signing the brief, include Reps. Bruce Westerman (Ariz.-04), Lauren Boebert (Colo.-03), Tom Tiffany (Wis.-07), Matt Rosendale (Mont.-02), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.-01), Ken Buck (Colo.-04), Mariannette Miller–Meeks (Iowa-01), Doug Lamborn (Colo.-05), Harriet Hageman (Wyo.-AL), Andy Biggs (Ariz.-05), GT Thompson (Pa.-15), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.-05), Lori Chavez–DeRemer (Ore.-05), Tom McClintock (Calif.-05), Ryan Zinke (Mont.-01), Ken Calvert (Calif.-41), Pete Stauber (Minn.-08), Eli Crane (Ariz.-02), Russ Fulcher (Idaho-01), John Rose (Tenn.-06), Scott Perry (Pa.-10), Chuck Fleischmann (Tenn.-03), Derrick Van Orden (Wis.-03), and Ben Cline (Va.-06). In the Senate, Sens. James Risch (R-Idaho), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho).

Click here to read the Amicus Brief.


ORR to Unveil Second Edition of the Rural Economic Development Toolkit

After three years of research on communities around the United States, the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR) will unveil the second edition of its widely acclaimed rural economic development toolkit on Jan. 24. The toolkit is designed to help communities build better outdoor recreation economies. This toolkit was developed in close partnership with the Oregon State University Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy and is made possible through generous support from the Richard King Mellon Foundation.

Chris Perkins, vice president of Programs at ORR and author of the toolkit, will walk the audience through a wide portfolio of new research and resources before inviting community leaders from rural America to outline their strategies for success.

The event will feature Kate Porsche, executive director Oregon State University Center for the Outdoor Recreation Economy; Ta Enos, founder & CEO of Pennsylvania Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship; Stephanie Swepson-Twitty, president & CEO of Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation, Old Fort, N.C.; Corey Lilly, manager of Outdoor Community Development, West Virginia University Outdoor Recreation Economic Development Collaborative, Beckley, W.Va.; and Jessie Powers, executive director, Outdoor Recreation Council of Appalachia, Athens County, Ohio, as guest speakers.

Click here to register.


Recent Bureau of Land Management Activity

  • Hines, Ore. – On Dec. 4, the BLM implemented its annual temporary closures of the Skull Creek (portions of) and Horton Mill roads north of Burns. The closures will help avoid potential road surface damage and erosion with snow and moisture in the forecast and eventual spring thawing. The area will be reopened when dry conditions allow and maintenance needs are completed in the spring. Many other roads in BLM’s Burns District may also become muddy and susceptible to damage in the coming months. Visitors are encouraged to avoid traveling on any road at any time of the year when doing so will cause ruts and possible soil erosion. Limited road maintenance funds prohibit regular maintenance of most primitive access roads in the district. Drive with care and caution.
  • Craig, Colo. – The BLM began annual winter closures at the Emerald Mountain Special Recreation Area near Steamboat Springs on Dec. 1. Closing areas to human activity is necessary to protect critical forage habitat and enable animals, such as elk and deer, to conserve energy for winter survival. All areas south of the Ridge Trail, including Beall Trail and Kemry Draw, are closed to all forms of entry from Dec. 1 through June 30. This closure corresponds with Colorado Parks and Wildlife lands to the east and the Humble Ranch property to the southeast. Restroom facilities at the Kemry Draw trailhead are closed due to weather conditions.
  • Lake Havasu City, Ariz. – The BLM accepts proposals for the available Special Recreation Permits (SRP), valid from Dec. 1, 2024, through Feb. 28, 2025, for two competitive off-highway races on the Parker Racecourse. Applications will be accepted through March 1. All interested applicants must submit a complete SRP application package, which includes an SRP application form (Form 2930-1), an operating plan addressing topics covered in the guidelines, and topographic maps addressing the desired event course.


Join the countdown party on the New Year’s Eve of 2024 with metallic clock and gold colored calligraphy on the starry background