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Only a Quarter of Forest Service Trails Meet Agency Standards – GAO Report

Montana trail bridge
A bridge on a Montana Region 1 trail. (Forest Service/GAO Report)
The U.S. Forest has a huge trail maintenance backlog, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Forest Service manages more than 158,000 miles of recreational trails and maintenance includes removing downed trees and bridge repairs (see photo). The GAO found that about $80 million is budgeted annually for such work. The backlog of work was estimated at over $314 million in 2012.

The GAO report listed reasons for the lack of regular maintenance. Some of the reasons include:

  • Some trails were constructed for reasons other than recreation and are not properly constructed.
  • Some agency policies hamper trail work.
  • There are some issues with management of volunteers.
  • The GAO recommended that the Forest Service analyze the trails program needs and develop options for increasing maintenance. It also said that volunteers need to be encouraged and trained in proper maintenance procedures.
    The Forest

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