Folks, I’ve been working on an essay about US Forest Service roads that are in need of repairs and maintenance, and how a modest increase in timber sales could pay for such work. Indeed, such work is much needed, at least on the forests I’ve visited recently. The photo below is my son, Stewart (6-foot-7) next to a pothole on a heavily used USFS road on the Mt. Hood NF. This is not a new pothole. Someone, maybe an agency person, maybe a member of the public, painted white brackets on the pavement as a warning — as the previously painted warning had faded. So this pothole is years old. It is by no means the largest pothole I’ve encountered on paved roads here. Recreation on the Mt. Hood NF is huge, but some of the roads that serve those visitors are in poor shape.
According to the fy2016 budget justification, “The FY 2016 President’s Budget proposes $154,262,000 for the Roads program, a decrease of $13,832,000 from the FY 2015 Enacted level.” The 2014 enacted level was $166 million. It seems unlikely that an increase in funding will come from Congress.
The essay will be for The Forestry Source in the next few months. I’d like to hear about the situation on the National Forest(s) you visit. Is the forest in question is doing a good job with its limited road funding dollars? What do you think of the idea of establishing a “roads trust fund” on each forest and setting annual harvest targets for the fund? Or is there a better way to provide an adequate level of road-maintenance funding? If you’d like to pass along your comments for the article, send them to me at SWilent@gmail.com, and let me know if it is OK to publish them. Same with photos: pictures of potholes and other maintenance needs — or roads in good repair — are welcome. I’d like to hear from folks inside and outside of the agency.
Editor, The Forestry Source
The Society of American Foresters (www.eforester.org)