Persistence pays off for clean water and wildlife habitat with $250 million in funding for Legacy Roads and Trails program

Bull trout will have cleaner, colder water. Grizzly bears will have more secure and connected habitat. Elk and bighorn sheep will have larger areas to roam. Unneeded logging roads will be removed and hiking trails will be repaired.

This is the reality now that the Forest Service’s Legacy Roads and Trails program is permanent, and funded.

Deep within the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, just signed into law by President Biden, sits Section 40801—Establishing and funding the Legacy Roads and Trails program. This is a huge win in our decades-long drive to protect and restore national forest lands and waters.

Your support has led to this victory, and your continued generosity will ensure that we’re able to leverage the Legacy Roads and Trails program to benefit clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, and communities throughout the American West.

For years, Guardians has shone a light on the scars from decades of extractive (ab)use across millions of acres of the National Forest System—where over 370,000 miles of roads block fish from migrating to spawning grounds, slice critical habitat for grizzly bears, Canada lynx, and Sonoran desert tortoise into pieces, and muddy drinking water for countless communities.

The Trump administration eliminated all funding for this successful and popular program, but we persisted because national forests roads have over $3.2 billion in unfulfilled maintenance and restoration needs, meaning that roads can easily crumble into creeks with any passing storm.

Thanks to our hard work, now $250 million over 5 years will flow into the Legacy Roads and Trails program to support projects such as fixing roads and trails to withstand more intense storms, decommissioning obsolete roads to rewild wildlife habitat, and removing or improving culverts under roads to allow fish passage. These are highly effective actions that improve climate resiliency and fix the harm from decades of damage.

Roads are like a dagger piecing the heart of wild places, so we are incredibly grateful to thousands of you who took action over the past year to drive Congress to permanently authorize and fund this crucial program. But we aren’t done yet.

Your continued support today will help us achieve our Rewilding vision.

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About the Author

Marlies Wierenga | Former Pacific Northwest Conservation Manager, WildEarth Guardians

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