AFS Supports Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Funding

Note: A similar letter was also sent to the Senate.

April 13th, 2021

The Honorable Chellie Pingree
House Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
2007 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
The Honorable David Joyce
Ranking Member
House Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chair Pingree and Ranking Member Joyce,

On behalf of the undersigned hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation organizations, we are writing to request your support for watershed and habitat restoration on U.S. Forest Service lands by appropriating $100 million in funding for the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails (LRT) Remediation program in the Fiscal Year 2022 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill.

The Forest Service manages over 191 million acres of public land that are jointly owned by all Americans. These lands provide essential habitat for a wide range of North American fish and game species. Rivers and streams on Forest Service lands provide critical habitat for trout, salmon and other aquatic species.

Across the country, from the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia to the Coleville National Forest in Washington, LRT-funded projects have made major contributions to improve water quality and aquatic habitat while making USFS roads and trails more durable. The program’s targeted activities create important recreation and conservation jobs across the nation and save America’s taxpayers millions in road maintenance costs. These activities include:

  • Maintaining and/or storm-proofing thousands of miles of roads to protect habitat, water quality and downstream communities;
  • Reclaiming thousands of miles of unneeded roads to prevent erosion from damaging streams, many of which supply drinking water to rural and urban towns and cities;
  • Replacing over one thousand culverts to restore fish passage, aiding the recovery of fish species important to restoration goals, tribal communities and sportfishing enthusiasts;
  • Improving over five thousand miles of trails, driving the $842.2 billion outdoor recreation economy.

The Legacy Roads and Trails program works because it is targeted and results oriented. Over half of the money used for fish passage and culvert projects came from external partners amplifying the effect of the Legacy Roads and Trails seed funds. The collaborative stewardship of the LRT program has made fishing and hunting better, while providing high-paying family wage jobs in rural communities. These investments on our public lands have helped to improve drinking water, and to increase flood resiliency in the face of increasingly unpredictable and intense weather events.

Research has consistently shown that big game species need big wild country, uninterrupted by motorized disturbance. The LRT program helps address this wildlife need by removing and restoring unused tertiary motorized routes. These efforts help provide security habitat for sensitive species like elk and mule deer, while also providing hunters opportunities to experience the solitude, challenge and reward that hunting wild public lands provide.

The program is uniquely positioned to help the Forest Service address its historic maintenance backlog. USFS has identified a backlog of over $3.5 billion in deferred maintenance for roads, close to 400 high priority culvert projects requiring nearly $110M just for one year, and $675M for priority watershed restoration projects in just a portion of the watersheds nationwide. With its proven track record and broad bipartisan support, the LRT program is ideally shaped to begin addressing these needs once again.

We ask for your support of the program by reinstating Legacy Roads and Trails as a separate line item in the FY 2022 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill with a $100M allocation including salary, expenses and project investments. Thank you for your consideration.


American Fisheries Society
American Sportfishing Association
American Woodcock Society
Angler Action Foundation
Archery Trade Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
The Billfish Foundation
Fly Fishers International
Izaak Walton League of America
National Deer Association
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Wildlife Federation
North American Grouse Partnership
Orion: The Hunter’s Institute
Ruffed Grouse Society
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Trout Unlimited
Wild Salmon Center