Thanks to a bill signed into law last year by President Donald Trump, outdoor areas across the U.S. and Idaho will soon be getting upgrades.
The Great American Outdoors Act, which passed Congress with bipartisan support, will provide $9.5 billion over five years to address a backlog of maintenance issues in America’s national parks and public lands.
U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who was one of 59 sponsors of the bill, praised the legislation and the announcement of Idaho's improvement projects that will be funded by it in a recent press release.
“I’ve often said we love our national parks to death. The backlog of maintenance to both the parks and forests is overwhelming and that is why I worked hard to make the Great American Outdoors Act law,” Simpson said. “Idahoans love to get out and enjoy our public lands and it is rewarding to see the goals of GAOA come to life through these projects.”
In Idaho’s 2nd congressional district, which Simpson represents, the following projects are planned with funds provided by the Great American Outdoors Act, according to the press release.
Caribou-Targhee National Forest:
— Repairing and chip sealing 5.31 miles of road up to Scout Mountain Campground through an agreement with Bannock County
— Improving the Kinney Creek Trailhead by adding gravel, increasing parking spaces, adding kiosks and maintaining the trail
— Repaving the Cherry Springs Nature Area and making sure it complies with ABA/ADA standards
— Recontouring the Lead Draw Trailhead, removing garbage and installing new signs
— Giving portions of Scout Mountain Campground a much-needed face-lift by restoring picnic tables, installing new toilets, upgrading the water system and ensuring it complies with ABA/ADA standards
— Improving the East Fork of Mink Creek Trailhead and Trail #164 by putting in new trail bridges, refurbishing the kiosk, adding water dips and replacing culverts
Salmon‐Challis National Forest
— Dagger Creek bridge replacement
— Boundary‐Dagger Road repair
— Central Idaho Wilderness Complex Priority Area trails maintenance
— Salmon River Road Corridor Recreation Site maintenance
— Silver Creek Road (Road Forest 60108) Repair
— Salmon‐Challis National Forest Developed Recreation Site maintenance on Sawtooth National Recreation Area satellite sites
Boise National Forest:
— Yellow Jacket, Ten Mile Ridge and Silver Creek Summit trail maintenance
— Scriver Creek priority bridge replacement
— East Fork Burnt Log Creek priority bridge replacement
— Edna Creek Campground redesign and improvements
— Toilet replacements at Buck Mountain, Penny Springs and Trout Creek campgrounds
— Idaho City Compound Water System reconstruction
— Third Fork Project Camp and Recreation Rental Cabin water system reconstruction
Tawnya Brummett, Boise National Forest supervisor, and Chuck Mark, Salmon-Challis National Forest supervisor, said in Simpson’s press release that the projects picked were ones “that reduce deferred maintenance, are ready to implement and provide the greatest immediate benefit to the public.”
In the press release, Caribou-Targhee National Forest supervisor Mel Bolling praised the Great American Outdoors Act.
“Each year, approximately 2 million individuals recreate in the forest,” Bolling said. “GAOA funding is a great opportunity to improve many of our local facilities and enhance access to these popular areas.”
The Great American Outdoors Act, which The Associated Press called "the most significant conservation legislation enacted in nearly half a century,” was signed into law on Aug. 4, 2020. Afterward, then-Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt declared Aug. 4 as Great American Outdoors Act Day. Because of that, each Aug. 4, there will be no entrance fees on Department of Interior lands.
“Thanks to public input and our Forest Service employees, rural economies and communities in and around our national forests will benefit from the implementation of the Great American Outdoors Act,” Simpson said in the press release. “I look forward to getting out on our public lands and seeing these projects upon their completion.”