Luján, Risch, Schrier, Chavez-DeRemer Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Legacy Road and Trail Transparency

Luján, Risch, Schrier, Chavez-DeRemer Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Legacy Road and Trail Transparency

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) joined U.S. Representatives Kim Schrier (D-Wash.) and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Ore.) to introduce bipartisan, bicameral legislation to improve transparency of the Legacy Road and Trail Remediation (LRTR) Program. This legislation requires the U.S. Forest Service to publish annually, for each region, a list of projects eligible for funding under the program. Established in 2008, this program was created to deliver funding to address critical road issues, restore watersheds, improve water quality, and create high-paying jobs in the process. 

This bipartisan legislation ensures that the U.S. Forest Service considers public input when making important decisions on which Legacy Road and Trails Remediation projects to fund. The legislation also requires the U.S. Forest Service to be more transparent in the selection process by publishing all projects that were considered for funding. Leading conservation, wildlife, and recreation organizations applauded Congressional action to permanently authorize LRTR through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021 and continue to urge the U.S. Forest Service to be more engaging and transparent around project selection. 

“The Legacy Roads and Trails Program is critical to long-term restoration of our watersheds on public lands in New Mexico. Including the voices of the public and local leaders in conservation, wildlife, and recreation is essential to making sure that the most impactful projects are selected for funding,” said Senator Luján. “I’m glad to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will give the public a stronger voice in the selection of Legacy Road and Trail proposals.” 

“Preserving access to Idaho’s forests and public lands is critical. The Forest Service’s failure to engage with local communities when selecting Legacy Road and Trail Remediation projects is a disservice to Idahoans,” said Senator Risch. “This legislation will drastically improve the means for locals to offer their input on these projects.”

“In Washington state, the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program has been particularly impactful, facilitating hundreds of culvert repairs for fish passage and creating more access for all of us to outdoor recreation. I am proud to have joined with colleagues last congress to introduce the Legacy Roads and Trails Act, which through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is finally able to address a long backlog of projects caused by chronic underfunding,” said Rep. Schrier. “As the Forest Service catches up on managing deteriorating infrastructure which harms water quality and fish habitat, we are providing further support to involve the public, foster public – private partnerships, create local jobs, and ultimately strengthen this work on the ground in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion.”

“When a federal project could have a significant impact on local communities, transparency should always be a top priority – including for the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program,” said Rep. Chavez-DeRemer. “I’m honored to join a bipartisan and bicameral group of my colleagues to introduce legislation that will help ensure the public is able to have a voice in the project-selection process.”

“There are more than 370,000 miles of roads coursing through the U.S. National Forest system, greater than the distance from the Earth to the moon. This system’s roads and trails are how we manage our forests and recreate in them, but many desperately need repair. The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law provided an urgent and necessary investment in these roads and trails’ maintenance, and this legislation will ensure transparency and public input into how the Forest Service addresses its backlog. Sens. Risch and Luján’s proposal will lead to better governance of this once-in-a-generation investment and better outcomes for our forests, their ecosystems and the millions who enjoy them every year,” said Tom Cors, Senior Director, Legislative Affairs, The Nature Conservancy.

“In recent years, Trout Unlimited and the Forest Service have partnered to restore more than 400 miles of fish habitat, reconnect another 700 miles by removing fish passage barriers, and improve hundreds of thousands of acres of National Forest lands. Legacy Roads and Trails is an integral part of this longstanding partnership. This legislation advances the model of collaborative stewardship the Forest Service has pioneered across to the country to create healthier habitat and an even stronger recreation economy. Critically, the bill will enhance resilient access to Forest Service lands and waters—some of the nation’s finest public resources for outdoor recreation,” said Chris Wood, President and CEO of Trout Unlimited.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.


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