Carbajal, LaMalfa Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fund Forest Roads
Today, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01) introduced the Funding Our Roads and Ecosystems Sustainably Together (FOREST) Act to help ensure forest roads in California and across the nation have the funding needed to maintain infrastructure and keep communities safe.
Currently the National Park Service (NPS) receives $292 million to maintain over 13,000 miles of road, yet the United States Forest Service (USFS) receives only $18 million to maintain 370,000 miles of road. There is great need for investment in our forest roads, and this funding disparity creates a detrimental challenge for USFS roads. The bipartisan FOREST Act would address this disparity, and increased dedicated road funding would help free up other USFS dollars to restore forests and ensure roads are equipped for travel and emergency preparedness.
“In California, we know the importance of our forests to our economy, recreation and livelihood—we also know that, in the event of a fire emergency, sturdy and effective roads make all the difference,” said Carbajal. “Our FOREST Act ensures that first responders and all those tasked with keeping our communities safe are able to effectively do their jobs. I’m proud to partner with Rep. LaMalfa on this bipartisan bill that will make our home state and communities across the nation more secure and prepared.”
“Forest road infrastructure is vitally important to fighting fires in our forests and providing access to recreation. Our National Forest System hosts one-hundred fifty million visitors every year. Whether those are visitors from across the nation, or a local enjoying their favorite trail, we need to provide the Forest Service with enough funding to maintain the roads those visitors use,” said LaMalfa. “The National Forest System has twice the acreage, and nearly thirty times the amount of roads as our National Park System – yet less than a tenth of the road funding. I’m happy to partner with Congressman Carbajal to address this problem.”
Healthy forests and strong roads are crucial for filtering our air and water; facilitating swift emergency evacuation; providing recreation; supporting the economy; and sustaining our natural infrastructure. The FOREST Act, H.R. 5334, works to ensure USFS roads are well-funded and operable for the communities that need them. This is especially important for fire mitigation, suppression and recovery.
Full bill text can be found here.