Reps. Carbajal, LaMalfa Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fund Forest Roads
Washington, D.C. -- Today, Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-1) 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 their infrastructure and keep communities safe.
Currently, the National Park Service (NPS) receives $292 million to maintain over 13,000 miles of roads, yet the United States Forest Service (USFS) receives only $18 million to maintain 370,000 miles of roads. There is great need for investment in our forest roads and this funding disparity creates a detrimental challenge for USFS that puts communities at risk. The bipartisan FOREST Act would increase dedicated road funding to free up USFS dollars in order to restore forests and ensure service roads are equipped for travel, emergency preparedness, and response.
“In California, we know the importance of our national forests to our recreational and tourism economy—we also know that, in the event of a fire emergency, well maintained and resilient roads make all the difference,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Our FOREST Act ensures that first responders and all those tasked with keeping our communities safe are able to effectively do their jobs, especially during a fire. I’m glad to partner with Rep. LaMalfa on this bipartisan bill that will make the Central Coast and communities across the nation more secure and prepared.”
“Forest roads are vitally important to fighting fires and providing access to recreation. Our National Forest System hosts one-hundred fifty million visitors every year. Whether those are families 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 Rep. 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.”
“The FOREST Act is the shot in the arm our forest infrastructure desperately needs. Forest roads are an important part of our nation’s transportation infrastructure. Damaged, destroyed or otherwise unusable roads hamper wildfire response efforts, lead to sedimentation of streams and limit outdoor recreation opportunities. Fixing these roads will help forests continue to support local economies, sequester carbon and provide clean water and wildlife habitat. Directing these investments through the transportation bill and not the Forest Service’s budget frees up resources for the agency to do its job: managing the nation’s forests. We applaud the cosponsors for coming together to introduce this legislation and look forward to working with congressional leaders to enact this critical investment in our forest roads,” said Cecilia Clavet, senior policy advisor at The Nature Conservancy.
Healthy forests and sustainable infrastructure help keep our air and water clean, facilitate swift emergency evacuation, and provide opportunities for recreation that bolster our economy. The FOREST Act 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.
Rep. Salud Carbajal represents California’s 24th congressional district, encompassing Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and part of Ventura County.