PENDLETON — The Umatilla National Forest is implementing two projects this year thanks to funding from the Great American Outdoors Act.
The USDA Forest Service recently announced the investment of up to $40 million for 29 projects on national forests in Oregon and Washington to fund Great American Outdoors Act projects that will address critical deferred maintenance and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure. The two projects on the Umatilla National Forest will enhance safety and visitor access.
The Burnt Cabin Trail Bridge Replacement project on the Walla Walla Ranger District is 6 miles up the South Fork Walla Walla trail at the junction of the Burnt Cabin Trail No. 3226. The bridge was built 25 years ago with native log stringers that have deteriorated.
Due to safety concerns with the structure’s stability, the Forest Service closed access across the bridge in 2017. The flooding in 2020 also damaged the bridge and led to its removal. The Great American Outdoors Act funding will provide for the replacement of the bridge, restoring access to this popular trail.
The second project is the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway Chip Seal on the North Fork John Day Ranger District. This is to repair 33.6 miles of existing road on a popular 145-mile route that travels from near Arlington to Granite. This road also is a major portal to both the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests, offering numerous opportunities for scenic views and recreation. The deferred maintenance on this portion of the road will reduce risk to public safety and extend the life of this scenic route for 10-20 years.
This funding is part of a $285 million investment on national forests through the newly created National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which the Great American Outdoors Act established in 2020. The funds will allow the Forest Service to implement more than 500 infrastructure improvement projects nationwide.
For more information on these projects in the Pacific Northwest region, visit the regional GAOA website.
Additional information about the Umatilla National Forest is available at www.fs.usda.gov/umatilla.