The Bitterroot National Forest will be taking care of a backlog of deferred maintenance this season. Last week, we listed the projects approved by the Ravalli County Resource Advisory Committee. That apparently was just the start for a busy work season.

This week, funds were announced from the new Great American Outdoors Act, which created the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund. Over 500 infrastructure projects are planned across the nation, including over 60 in Montana. The Bitterroot National Forest has six, mainly dealing with access to the forests and travel on the forests.

They are:

  • Gird Point Road #714 - Resurfacing and repair to the road from Skalkaho to the Gird Point Lookout Rental Cabin.
  • St. Mary's Road #739 - Resurfacing and repairs of the road that accesses the trailhead to St Mary's Peak lookout. The lookout has over 1,500 visitors every summer. The road project will include the MaCalla Lake Road.
  • Bitterroot Valley Recreation Sites - roadside brushing - Clearing of overgrown vegetation on 100 miles of forest roads leading to popular recreation sites.
  • Wilderness Trail Maintenance - Increased trail clearing, drainage structure repairs and tread improvements on wilderness trails.
  • Motorized/Non-Motorized Trail Improvements - This will clear up backlogged work on various Bitterroot National Forest trails, including clearing, drainage and tread repair.
  • Developed Campground Maintenance and Improvements - Some of the "high use" campgrounds will have extra projects to handle backlogged repairs.
  • In a related news release, Carol Hennessey of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest said visitors may experience some inconveniences as the maintenance work is happening, but "we're grateful for such substantial funding to address the failing infrastructure of recreation sites and access routes."

    The funding from the Legacy Restoration Fund will continue through 2025, which will include 4,400 jobs. Interior Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release, "Millions of people each year enjoy forests and grasslands, and these investments will promote public-private partnerships, tourism and recreation, protect public lands and ensure our national forests are accessible to all."

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