U.S. Forest Service invites public comment on trail maintenance

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Editor’s note: This is a press release from the U.S. Forest Service.

The U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region (Region 5) is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of an effort — with partners and volunteers — to increase the pace of trail maintenance.

Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance contributed to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users, and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.

Region 5 manages more than 16,000 miles of trails enjoyed by 16,100,000 users annually. In Region 5, volunteers and partner groups contributed more than 178,000 hours in maintenance and repair of nearly 2,984 miles of trails last year.

“We are counting on our fellow Californians to help us identify where maintenance is needed,” said Randy Moore, PSR regional forester. “The forest visitors who enjoy these trails year-round are the best source of information for what’s needed on the ground, and we’re counting on their expertise and willingness to help.”

Region 5 has until April 15 to submit at least three regional proposals to its national headquarters. Those proposals will be compared to proposals from other Forest Service regions.

Therefore, public comments should be submitted before April 7. Comments may be sent to Regional Trail Program Manager Garrett Villanueva at gvillanueva@fs.fed.us or the San Jacinto Ranger Station for John Ladley: Either call 909-382-2934 or email jladley@fs.fed.us.

By the end of 2021, the Forest Service hopes for a 100-percent increase in the portion of maintenance volunteers and partners conduct.

The selected sites will be part of the initial focus that will include a mosaic of areas with known trail-maintenance needs that include areas near urban and remote areas, such as wildernesses, are of varying sizes and trail lengths, are motorized and non-motorized, and incorporate a varied combination of partner and volunteer approaches and solutions.

The Forest Service receives widespread support from tens of thousands of volunteers and partners each year. In 2015, volunteers contributed nearly 1.4 million hours — a value of about $31.6 million —in maintenance and repair of nearly 30,000 miles of trails.

However, limited funding, compounded by the rising cost of wildfire operations, has resulted in fewer than 25 percent of Forest Service trails meeting all of the agency’s standards for safety, quality recreation, and economic and environmental sustainability. The remaining trails meet standards to varying degrees.

Ideas and suggestions on potential priority areas and approaches for incorporating increased trail maintenance assistance from partners and volunteers should be transmitted to the individuals above.

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