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House proposal would encourage use of volunteers, partnerships in nation's forests

June 27, 2014

PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- A bipartisan bill in the U.S. House of Representatives would require the U.S. Forest Service to publish a strategy to significantly increase the role of volunteers and partners in trail maintenance, the American Motorcyclist Association reports.

U.S. Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.) introduced the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2014 (H.R. 4886) on June 18.

"During a time of shrinking budgets, it is important that federal agencies and the constituents they serve work together to ensure that all Americans can access public lands for diverse uses," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president of government relations. "This bill would urge the Forest Service to partner with off-highway-vehicle enthusiasts to help to reduce the $500 million maintenance backlog on USFS land."

In addition to increasing the use of volunteers, the act would require the Secretary of Agriculture to examine ways to effectively use fire crews for maintenance operations when the crews are not needed elsewhere.

H.R. 4886 has broad support among trail users, including the American Horse Council, the American Outdoor Association, and the Wilderness Society.

The bill was referred to the House Agriculture Committee and its Natural Resources Committee. 

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