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

Central receives funding for 7 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 Central Washington, the Okanagan-Wenatchee National Forest and the National Forest Service Region 6 received funding for seven projects.

Funded projects in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest include:

  • Removing sites from the riparian zone, replacing flush toilets with vault toilets, removing the old wastewater treatment system, installing a potable water supply system, and mitigating hazard trees along Stevens Pass National Scenic Byway in Chelan County. Work also includes trail and road maintenance within this recreation corridor.
  • Addressing deferred maintenance on trails, bridges, campgrounds, and scenic viewpoints along North Cascades Recreation Scenic Corridor in Chelan, Whatcom and Okanagan counties, which will provide for diverse recreation, improve visitor access and provide local economic benefits.
  • Designing and constructing multiple structures in Okanagan County that will replace existing culverts on several creeks within the Mission Restoration Project area, providing for aquatic organism passage for listed species and preventing resource and property damage.

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. Work 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 Yakima County.
  • Addressing a significant backlog of maintenance across approximately 1500 miles of trail in the Pacific Northwest region, with work that includes installation and repair of trail structures and signage and reconstruction of tread. The award includes sites in seven counties in Idaho, Oregon and Washington, including Chelan and Okanogan counties.
  • Addressing outstanding road and recreation site maintenance needs in the Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area in King and Kittitas counties. Work will focus on improving safety and access on high use roads. Additionally, the project will repair and replaced degraded water, wastewater and electrical systems as well as a failing septic and drinking water system at two very popular campgrounds. Other work includes installation of numerous amenities to recreation sites in the vicinity.
  •  Addressing thousands of road-stream crossings that are barriers to fish and wildlife and under capacity for high flows. This impacts fish populations (because they are barriers) and human road-user safety (because the crossings could fail.) The award includes sites in five counties in Washington and Oregon, including Kittitas and Yakima 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.