SHELTON, Wash. - One Forest Service effort that has made a difference on Washington's public land is the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation program, although it is now in jeopardy of losing funding in Congress. The money is used to fix or decommission old logging roads that are washing out, causing mudslides and clogging streams.
It also puts people to work - people like Ron Gold, whose small construction company in Shelton has been busy in the Olympic National Forest. Without Legacy Roads funding, he says his company's future is also in jeopardy.
"We work doing upgrades for fish passes and doing upgrades on roads to keep sediments out of creeks. We can go back to work with the Forest Service around 1 May on some of these contracts. You know, to be honest, the last two years, that's the only thing that saved us, was working for the Forest Service."
Gold says keeping up the roads and trails would also bring more tourist dollars to towns like Shelton.
"Some of the roads are washed out, so people can't get to these areas. So, by coming in and fixing some of these areas, they're opening an opportunity for additional recreation and also, you have other benefits from the forests, other than the timber, when you have an area like this."
Fully funding the Legacy Roads and Trails program would take at least $90 million a year, an amount it received last year, in part because of the work of Washington Congressman Norm Dicks (D-6th Dist.). But current budget proposals would cut it almost in half. Conservation groups estimate the Forest Service budget has already been cut so much that the agency is able to maintain only about 20 percent of the vast road system on public land.