With Budget Season Nearing, a Case for a Bold Investment in Our National Forests and Public Lands
National coalition of outdoor recreation groups share their argument for making a bold investment in the Forest Service and other land management agencies as Congress prepares to begin the appropriations process.
April 14, 2021
(Washington, DC) April 13, 2021 – This week, Winter Wildlands Alliance, The Mountaineers, and Outdoor Alliance released a funding report about the Forest Service, making the case for a bold investment in the agency as Congress prepares to begin the appropriations process.
Outdoor recreation is booming, with recent reports showing historic visitation to our public lands and waters, yet funding for the public land agencies has not kept up with the growth in visitation. Recreation infrastructure on our National Forests is crumbling under increased use and decreased funding for maintenance. We need to invest in the Forest Service to ensure it can carefully manage increased use, protect our cherished natural resources, and steward our National Forests so people can continue to enjoy them.
While the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) provides much-needed funding for Forest Service deferred maintenance needs, the Forest Service does not currently have adequate staff necessary to administer GAOA deferred maintenance and Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) projects. Without more agency capacity, our country will be unable to deliver on the promise of GAOA or other targeted public lands investments.
Increased funding for the Forest Service will also play a crucial role in addressing the impacts of climate change, from wildfire preparation and impacts to landslides, flooding, invasive species, and more. The Forest Service needs more capacity to write management plans that strategically protect lands to mitigate climate issues and identify which lands are suitable for renewable energy development, so that we can balance the country’s energy needs with biodiversity, recreation, and conservation priorities.
Everyone deserves access to public lands but the Forest Service is failing to serve the full spectrum of the American public, fostering inequity across the National Forest system. More funding would improve the permitting system to enable facilitated access to National Forests. Funding would also help the Forest Service protect cultural resources and create more accessible trails and picnic areas.
Places with more access to public lands and to outdoor recreation have greater wealth and faster-growing wages, particularly in rural communities. More funding for the Forest Service would support rural communities in two ways: improving their outdoor infrastructure and providing well paying, stable jobs for people in rural communities. The Forest Service needs workers at every level, from seasonal positions to career-level hires, and Forest Service jobs provide good pay and benefits. More funding means more jobs, more economic opportunities for people and communities, and more capacity for the agency.
You can read our full report advocating for better funding for the Forest Service on our website or attached to this email.
Outdoor Alliance is a nonprofit coalition of organizations that include American Whitewater, American Canoe Association, Access Fund, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Winter Wildlands Alliance, The Mountaineers, American Alpine Club, the Mazamas, Colorado Mountain Club, and Surfrider Foundation. Outdoor Alliance unites backcountry skiers, hikers, paddlers, mountain bikers, boaters, climbers, and surfers who share a commitment to protecting public lands and waters. For more information, visit outdooralliance.org.