Congress Passes $50 Million for Watershed Restoration

The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 was signed into law yesterday. The act includes a spending measure for a handful of committees that were unable to pass their bills at the end of 2008 including the Interior Appropriations bill.The final bill included $50 million in funding for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative, an increase of $10 million over FY08 funding levels.

The Legacy Roads program is funded as part of the Forest Service’s Capital Improvement and Maintenance budget line item and is not considered one of the “earmarks” that have been so hotly debated in congress and the media this year. The Forest Service projected that in 2008 the $40 million Legacy Roads program funding would:

* decommission 303 miles of road;
* restore or enhance 581 miles of stream habitat;
* maintain or improve to standards 1,783 miles of trails;
* maintain or improve 1,907 miles of high clearance vehicle roads;
* construct or reconstruct 407 stream crossings to restore fish passage, and
* improve a minimum of 60,831 acres of habitat.

The extension of this funding in 2009 will allow the expansion of critical watershed restoration work in forests across the nation.