Washington/Oregon Forest Service announces Legacy Roads accomplishments
By Bethanie Walder
March 18, 2009
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The Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service has posted a draft report documenting what they accomplished with the $8.4 million dollars they received from the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Initiative (Legacy Roads) in fiscal year 2008.
We were delighted to see that the report acknowledges the hard work that the Washington Watershed Restoration Inititiave (WWRI) has done to promote Legacy Roads. From page 6 of their report:
"Major acceleration of road restoration began in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008, when Congress authorized the Legacy Roads and Trails Program and allocated the Forest Service $40 million to begin its implementation. The program is specifically designed to reduce risks and impacts to watershed health and aquatic ecosystems by removing fish passage barriers, decommissioning unneeded roads and addressing critical repair and deferred maintenance needs. Strong support for this effort was provided by the Washington Watershed Restoration Initiative, a coalition of State agencies and local organizations."
Wildlands CPR's Restoration Campaign Coordinator, Sue Gunn, acts as the Campaign Coordinator for WWRI, and has been leading efforts to promote legacy roads type funding through appropriations and stimulus.
The report lists the following accomplishments from the funding received:
•23 road-stream crossings constructed/reconstructed for fish passage.
•375 miles of roads improved, 559 miles maintained.
•132 miles of road decommissioned.
•6 bridges constructed/reconstructed.
•90 miles of trails improved, 129 miles maintained.
•38 plans/designs for future work completed or initiated.
The report includes some great photos, charts and maps and is an excellent introduction to how effective this program can be. For example, here's a summary of the results from work in the Skokomish Watershed (from page 11 of the report):
•8.0 miles road decommissioning
•1.3 miles decommissioning/conversion to trail
•0.5 miles road closure (intensive)
•81 percent reduction in sediment delivery to strteams.
•100 percent reduction in culvert failure risk.
•4000 m3 of earthen fill removed from high risk sites.
Preventing 4000 cubic meters of fill from entering streams and reducing sediment delivery by 81% are very real, tangible benefits of this program - and that's just one example!
While all the funds weren't used for decommissioning and fish passage work, this was a key part of the Legacy Roads program, with very beneficial results on the ground. The Pacific Northwest region was likely the only region to allocate specific funds from the Legacy Roads program for future planning and monitoring, but we are pressing the agency to make this a formal component of future Legacy Roads funding nationwide.
Here's a final quote, articulating the regionwide benefits of the program in 2008:
•65 miles of stream habitat restored or enhanced.
•1,311 acres of watershed improved.
•Completed ‘whole watershed restoration’ work within the water supply boundary of the Bull Run River watershed, Mt. Hood National Forest.
•Reduced road system by 132 miles, thereby reducing maintenance costs by > $50,000/year.
•Made portions of the road network more durable, enabling it to better accommodate the more frequent large storms projected for the future.
The only major thing the agency didn't monitor yet is how many jobs they created with these funds, but we are working with the Forest Service and The Wilderness Society to develop a report that will provide some preliminary green jobs information from Legacy Roads spending. We expect to have that finished by July.
If your region of the Forest Service hasn't prepared a Legacy Roads accomplishment report, direct them to this one and ask them when they'll have a similar report available about their own work!
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