PNW Public Lands Awarded $16.8 Million from Cantwell-led Bill to Address Maintenance Backlog

SW receives funding for 11 projects, including road repairs, bridge replacements and campground upgrades

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced awards of $7.47 million to public lands in Washington state and $9.33 million to public lands in the greater Pacific Northwest region. Funding was secured through the Great American Outdoors Act, which U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) cosponsored.

The investment will help address deferred maintenance, improve infrastructure, increase accessibility and support surrounding economies.

“This investment in 26 projects across Washington state’s forests and public lands will improve access to our world-renowned parks, forests, historic sites and trails. Our public lands are major economic drivers – more than 200,000 jobs hinge on their maintenance and preservation,” Sen. Cantwell said.

“With this shot in the arm to our outdoor economy, we will help secure more jobs in communities throughout the state and ensure Washingtonians will be able to enjoy these priceless assets for decades to come.”

In Southwest Washington, the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and the National Forest Service’s Region 6 in Grays Harbor received funding for 11 projects.

Funded projects in Gifford Pinchot National Forest include:

  • Repairing road failures on Forest Road 25, the majority of which are subgrade failures that extend over a stretch of road of about 21 miles in Lewis and Skamania Counties. This project will improve visitor access and the visitor experience while alleviating critical health and safety issues.
  • Replacing the existing drinking water system in La Wis Wis Campground in Lewis County with one that is more efficient and sustainable. The project involves replacing new waterlines, replacing valves, and replacing and reducing the number of spigots. It also involves installing underground electric service to the campground, and removing a non-functioning flush toilet along with associated features such as plumbing and a septic tank.
  • Addressing outstanding maintenance needs at the Johnston Ridge Observatory at the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument in Skamania County. The work will include fire system repairs, energy conservation upgrades and repairs to the theater. This project will improve the visitor experience while reducing deferred maintenance and restoring the visitor center for the mission of educating the public.
  • Repairing or replacing much of the water system located at the Mt. Adams Ranger District at Trout Lake in Klickitat County.
  • Replacing multiple trail bridges across the forest in Lewis County to reduce resource impacts and improve the visitor experience.
  • Replacing the Huffaker Bridge along Forest Road 25 in Lewis County.

Funded projects in Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area include:

  • Replacing multiple single-vault restroom facilities at popular recreation fee sites Herman Creek Horse Camp, Herman Creek Trailhead and St. Cloud Picnic Area in Skamania County and Hood River, Ore. to reduce deferred maintenance and improve accessibility.
  • Realigning and reconstructing Coyote Wall Recreation Area in Klickitat County and decommissioning user-created trails in the vicinity. Project will reduce deferred maintenance and increase trail sustainability, address impacts to natural resources, and improve mountain biking and hiking opportunities. 
  • Replacing a culvert on Keuffler Road in Skamania County with a bridge for crossing East Fork Woodard Creek. The bridge will provide for aquatic organism passage and restoration of the natural stream channel to improve access to over a mile of upstream fish habitat. 
  • Relocating the Dog Mountain Trailhead to address congestion and safety concerns at the popular recreation site on State Route 14 in Skamania County.

Funded projects in National Forest Service Region 6 include:

  • Addressing routine and deferred maintenance deficiencies including sign and kiosk repair, accessibility improvements, painting, picnic table and fire ring installation. Deferred maintenance activities will be prioritized within recreation areas and corridors that increase the impact of investments and model shared stewardship. The award includes sites in 19 counties in Washington and Oregon, including Grays Harbor and Lewis counties.

The total funding announced this week -- $503 million nationwide -- was split between the Legacy Restoration Fund and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Sen. Cantwell is a strong advocate for preserving public lands, and she has a long history of securing funding to protect Washington’s natural resources. When the LWCF’s authorization expired in 2015 for the first time in its 50 year history, Sen. Cantwell successfully led the fight to reauthorize the fund for three years despite strong opposition from leaders in the House of Representatives. She also coauthored and cosponsored The Great American Outdoors Act, which was signed into law in August 2020 and fully, permanently funded the LWCF and invested billions of dollars to address the maintenance backlog on public lands throughout Washington state and around the country. Because the funding comes from offshore oil and gas royalties, it does not burden taxpayers or add to the national deficit.

The fund also helps support the American outdoor recreation economy, which generates $887 billion in consumer spending every year and supports 7.6 million jobs nationwide. In Washington state alone, outdoor recreation creates $26.5 billion in annual spending, supports 264,000 jobs, and generates nearly $12 billion in wages and salaries.

Video from Senator Cantwell’s remarks when the Great American Outdoors Act passed the Senate is available HERE and the audio is available HERE.