Federal Wilderness Threatened by Cuts, Even Before SequesterBy Steve Casimiro on March 15th, 2013
While the Yellowstones of the world are grabbing headlines for budget cuts during the sequester, federal wilderness has seen the threat of under-budgeting for several years. In the Northwest, more than 11 million acres of mountains, forests, and other wild places are designated as wilderness areas. And in much of it, the thousands of miles of trail systems, such as in Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, are already in disrepair. In Washington and Oregon, federal funding for trail maintenance is already $50 million in arrears. One fear is that the Forest Service will be forced to close trails because short staffs will not only prevent maintenance, but won’t be able to cover all the ground they need. One solution is volunteers, which the USFS already relies on. And the sequester might have one useful impact: Many hope it will allow the use of chainsaws to improve the speed of removing deadfall and building erosion-resistant paths. Via Northwest Public Radio.
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