Great American Outdoors Act Passes Senate, IMBA and USFS will Fund Several Trail Projects Together

Mountain bike trails on National Forest land are set to see more money for backlogged maintenance and improvements.
The Upper Buffalo Headwaters. Photo: IMBA

2020 National Forest System Trail Stewardship grants

Along with IMBA, the National Forest System Trail Stewardship Partnership Funding program has selected awardees for 2020 grants that total $110,000 to 15 different projects that should improve bike trails in National Forests across the country.

“We thank the U.S. Forest Service for continuing to fund this partnership, one that acknowledges and appreciates mountain bikers and other trail volunteers as dedicated and exemplary stewards of our public lands,” said Dave Wiens, IMBA Executive Director. “Innovative opportunities like these, alongside IMBA’s Trail Accelerator grants and Dig In program, will mean more and better riding in communities across the country this year.”

The stewardship program helps volunteer organizations that lead stewardship efforts for trail maintanence on National Forest trails and was started through the National Forest Trail Stewardship Act of 2016. The Act increased the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance to help address backlogged maintenance in parks and on National Forest System trails. The funding comes from the USFS.

Out of 65 proposals, 39 projects were funded. That’s a total of $301,000 actual funding dollars of the $500,000 requested. In-kind matching brings the total to over $1M that will go to the trails. Nine of 10 USFS regions will receive funding. Much of the work will consist of additional signage, trail clearing, reroutes, bridge and structural repair, and drainage improvement. The following stewardship groups and mountain bike organizations will receive grants:

  • Sedona Red Rock Trail Fund for Sedona area trails
  • Mountain Bike the Tetons for Teton Basin Ranger District trails
  • Upper Merced River Watershed Council for Bass Lake Ranger District trails
  • Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association for Aspen Sopris Ranger District Friends of Panthertown for Panthertown Valley trails
  • Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association for Namakagon Trails
  • Friends of Blackwater for Blackwater Canyon trails
  • Northwoods Volunteer Connection for Cook County trails
  • Yavapai Trails Association for Prescott area trails
  • Watershed Center for Weaver Basin trails
  • Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado for Arapaho-Roosevelt Pike-San Isabel Forest trails
  • Ojai Valley Land Conservancy for three Ojai area trails
  • Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship for Middle Fork Feather River trails
  • Volunteers of Lewis Trails for Dark Meadows Trail
  • Arizona Trail Association for Santa Catalina National Forest, Arizona Trail
The Upper Buffalo Headwaters. Photo: IMBA

Great American Outdoors Act

In other land access and funding news this week, the Great American Outdoors Act passed the Senate 73 to 25 and will now move to the House of Representatives.

The set of bills is meant to provide more funding for trails, recreation projects, and trail maintenance while fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), putting billions of dollars toward deferred maintenance backlogs on federal public lands, which is said to total tens of billions of dollars across agencies.

“The pandemic has revitalized the importance of the outdoors. At the same time, it has highlighted how we don’t have enough trails close to home, and how trail access isn’t always equitable. The Great American Outdoors Act will help meet demand for accessible outdoor spaces, put people to work building trails and parks, and help create trail systems that provide lasting economic benefits,” said Wiens. 

The Great American Outdoors Act was introduced into the Senate in March after securing a permanent reauthorization for the LWCF.

“Fully funding LWCF at $900 million is the next step,” says IMBA. The LWCF has created trailheads, parks and mountain bike trails across the country, and is popular amongst both political parties, as the Great American Outdoors Act was supported by both parties, though the 25 senators who opposed it were all Republican.

The LWCF reinvests royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling into recreation projects. Eight IMBA Epic trails have been made possible through the LWCF including the Upper Buffalo Headwaters in Arkansas, the Bangtail Divide in Montana, and Rock Lake in Wisconsin.