U.S. Forest Service Commits Millions to Wyoming Projects
Written by Andrew-Rossi on March 15, 2021
National forests in Wyoming are due for several improvements this summer, as the U.S. Forest Service releases its multi-million-dollar project list for 2021.
The Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service has announced a plethora of projects in Wyoming and elsewhere. Thanks to the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, over $285 million dollars is available to the Forest Service for critical infrastructure improvements.
$31.5 million will go to the Rocky Mountain Region, which includes national forests in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Funds will be used to improve several amenities throughout the region.
Some examples include modernizing recreation facilities, improving roadways, upgrading campgrounds, designing, and building new trails or rehabilitating existing ones, repairing water systems, and updating toilets.
Several projects are planned for northwest Wyoming. Both the Shoshone and Bighorn National Forests are on the list for several important infrastructure improvements.
The following projects have been identified in the Bighorn Basin.
In Shoshone National Forest:
- Re-establishing and rehabilitating the trail tread along the entire length of the Fishhawk Trail, which was damaged in the 2019 Fishhawk Fire. The trail is currently closed for safety.
- Conducting deferred maintenance on the North Fork Trail, which provides access to the popular Cirque of the Towers climbing venue. This trail is one of only a few popular portals accessing the internationally acclaimed Cirque of the Towers.
- Finishing the final phase of the ongoing stabilization and preservation of the historic Anderson Lodge. Work includes improving structural integrity and reducing deferred maintenance. Anderson Lodge was utilized as the first administrative headquarters of the Yellowstone Forest Reserve (ca. 1902) and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Preservation efforts started in 2017 in partnership with HistoriCorps and the Park County Historic Preservation Commission.
- Repairing Clay Butte Road (Forest Road 142) and Parque Creek Road (Forest Road 504), which were damaged in landslides.
- Replacing worn and damaged signboards at Dead Indian and Lake Creek campgrounds along the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway.
- Replacing fencing with buck and pole materials at Horse Creek and Double Cabin campgrounds.
- Removing an unserviceable 30-foot footbridge and packing hardware out of the Down Fork wilderness area.
In Bighorn National Forest:
- Replacing solar (PV) batteries that are used to power the Leigh Creek Dump Station water system. The site is off-grid and runs completely via an in-place solar system with a battery storage bank that has reached its serviceable life. The project will include purchasing new batteries and recycling the existing batteries.
- Road reconstruction, surfacing, drainage, and safety work on Paintrock Road. A surfacing audit has been completed. This project is a high priority on the Federal Lands Transportation Program road subset.
- Reconstructing a road, including surfacing, drainage, and safety work on Forest Service Road 33, “Crazy Woman Road,” to enable public access. Additional work includes road stabilization and bridge improvements.
- Clearing will be conducted along highly utilized level 2 and level 3 roads identified as a high priority on the Federal Lands Transportation Program road subset. Roads were identified on the completed safety and surfacing audit to improve access and address health and safety concerns associated with travel site visibility. Road work with an emphasis on safety improvements. This project will address access, health, and safety concerns. Roads included in this project are: Forest Roads 14, 26, and 31.
None of these projects are particularly “sexy” and they’re not supposed to be. The goal of the Great American Outdoors Act is to address the backlog of maintenance issues in the areas managed by the Department of Interior.
Billions of dollars are going to critical projects in national parks and forests across the nation.
In Yellowstone National Park, $1 million of that money is going towards the restoration of Fort Yellowstone at Mammoth Hot Springs. That work is beginning this year.