Flathead Beacon: Forest Service Drops Proposal to Reduce Montana Trail Funding

The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana.

The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.

The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.

“Montana’s National Forests and public lands are a treasured part of our state and today’s news ensures that Montanans will continue to enjoy our great outdoors,” Daines stated. “As an avid outdoorsman, I know how important maintaining and expanding access to our public lands are for our way of life. This is a welcome step to see the Forest Service value Montanans’ feedback and I will continue to press the Forest Service for strong trail budgets for Montana each and every year.”

“Montanans use public trails to hike, hunt, and experience our great outdoors,” Tester said. “These trails are critically important to our outdoor economy, and restoring these damaging cuts will allow folks to continue to explore Big Sky Country. I appreciate the Forest Service taking another look at how important this is to Montana.”