October 1, 2014
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - A government report finds that hiking trails on national forests suffer from a $314 million backlog in maintenance.
The Government Accountability Office report found only a quarter of the national forest system's 158,000 miles of trails meets quality standards, neglect that can lead to erosion and silt deposited in streams.
It adds that the U.S. Forest Service relies heavily on volunteers to maintain trails but does not train its staff to work effectively with them.
Jim Furnish is a retired Forest Service deputy chief for the forest system. He says the problem goes back decades, and results from the Forest Service and Congress making recreation a low priority.
Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers says the agency agrees with the findings and will look for ways to close the funding gap.
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