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

Puget Sound region receives funding for 8 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 the Puget Sound region, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, the Olympic National Forest and the National Forest Service’s Region 6 received funding for eight projects.

Funded projects in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest include:

  • Addressing critical road and bridge repair and replacements to support scheduled timber sales, completion of deferred trail maintenance, trail reconstruction and trail bridge repairs, as well as a trailhead expansion at Heather Lake Trailhead in Snohomish County. The project also includes improvements to aquatic organism passages.
  • Enhancing and repairing recreation infrastructure on the Mountain Loop Scenic Byway in Snohomish County. This project will replace a failed bridge and elevated boardwalk at Big Four Ice Caves, decommission several defunct outhouses in the South Fork Stillaguamish and Sauk River corridors, and replace vault toilets at Big Four Ice Caves and Bald Eagle Trailheads.
  • Completing deferred maintenance and reconstruction on hiking trails and make improvements to provide universal access at interpretive sites, picnic areas, and viewpoints in Whatcom County. Bagley Dam will be decommissioned, and the stream channel restored to natural conditions. A trail bridge will also be constructed to maintain trail connectivity.
  • Correcting bridge safety issues by replacing damaged approach rails and rotting deck boards, paving gravel surface bridges to preserve weathering steel superstructures, and paving bridge approaches to reduce future damage in King, Kittitas, Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties.
  • Completing maintenance on multiple Forest Service roads in Skagit and Snohomish County. The project includes relocation of the Milk Creek Trail and replacement of the Milk Creek Trail bridge, which will restore access to the Pacific Crest Trail. Trail rehabilitation will also be completed in the Downey Creek fire area.

Funded projects in Olympic National Forest include:

  • Removing and replacing existing outdated facilities at Quinault Rainforest Trailhead and install new restrooms, which will improve safety and accessibility.

Funded projects in National Forest Service Region 6 include:

  • 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 areas of Washington and Oregon, including Union.

The total funding announcement 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.