Hike funding

Department of Agriculture unveils $503 million in national funding for outdoor recreation in Franklin Falls

NORTH BEND, King County — Against the backdrop of one of Washington’s most popular trails Monday morning, Assistant Agriculture Secretary Jewel Bronaugh unveiled $503 million in new infrastructure funding for outdoor recreation under the Great American Outdoors Act.

Speaking at the start of the Franklin Falls Trail in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest before embarking on a hike to the waterfall, one of the busiest trails in the state, Bronaugh announced the creation of the Legacy Restoration Fund, a federal fundraiser intended to clear the backlog of deferred maintenance projects on U.S. public lands. The fund will receive an injection of $285 million for 450 projects in 38 states and Puerto Rico.

Western Washington, home to four national forests and three national parks, will be one of the main beneficiaries of the fund. The Mountains to Sound Greenway project, which will improve trailheads, campgrounds and trails along the Interstate 90 corridor visited by 1.5 million people annually, was funded to the tune of $21.1 million dollars in fiscal years 2021 and 2022.

“Projects like the one here on Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest have incredible impacts on how visitors experience their national forests and grasslands,” Bronaugh said in a statement ahead of the announcement.

“Even beyond improving access, facilities and infrastructure, these investments are creating economic opportunity and good jobs where projects like this have the most impact.”

For local hikers, the announcement means short-term pain for long-term gain.

The trails to Snow Lake and Source Lake will close on July 16 and the trail to Lake Annette will close on June 15 for essential maintenance funded by this federal project. These water bodies are some of the most popular destinations in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, which required improvements to combat erosion on trails that were not designed for such heavy foot traffic.

“These projects at Snoqualmie Pass are a perfect example of why this funding is so needed and how the Great American Outdoors Act benefits recreation enthusiasts,” said Betsy Robblee, director of conservation for The Mountaineers.

The remaining $218 million announced on Monday will add additional funds to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Led by Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington, the LWCF has funded conservation, recreation or access projects nationwide since its founding in 1964, supporting access to public lands for hiking, biking , bird watching, fishing, hunting and all other ways of outdoor recreation. .

In Washington State, the fund has funded more than 700 projects, investing more than $725 million in trails across the state as well as local city parks, like Seattle’s Gas Works Park, Green Lake boathouse improvements and more.

Environmental journalist Lynda Mapes contributed to this report.

This story will be updated.