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Forest Service trails need volunteer help

Mar 22, 2017

Cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to build a bridge last summer.
Credit Elizabeth Stewart-Severy/Aspen Public Radio News

The U.S. Forest Service faces a major backlog in trail maintenance and is now looking to identify a few key areas where it can pick up the pace.

Across the country, less than 25 percent of the Forest Service’s thousands of miles of trails meet the agency’s standards for safety, recreation and sustainability. So in 2016, Congress directed the Forest Service to address the backlog by doubling the amount of trail maintenance done by volunteers and partners in the next five years.

Nationwide, volunteers already contribute the equivalent of more than $30 million of work on trails, based on data from 2015. The Forest Service has put out a survey asking the public to help identify between nine and 15 areas to prioritize for maintenance. The White River National Forest is one option in the Rocky Mountain region, where the agency manages nearly 20,000 miles of trails.

The Rocky Mountain office will submit several proposals by April 15, and the agency will focus on trails where maintenance can improve access and protect natural resources.