National Forest Lacks Funds To Area Maintain Trails - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

National Forest Lacks Funds To Area Maintain Trails

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BOZEMAN -

Hiking your favorite national forest trails could soon be a little rougher as the forest service suffers budget cuts. 

A report from the Government Accountability Office finds hiking trails in national forests are suffering from a $314 million backlog in maintenance.

The report said only a quarter of the forest system's 158,000 miles of trails meet quality standards. This neglect could lead to erosion and silt deposited in streams.

This deficit grew out of federal budget cuts.

Gallatin National Forest spokesman Patrick Lair said they can't afford to hire the people to maintain the trails.

"That's basically because our ability to hire seasonal employees to go out and maintain the trails we have here on the Gallatin, that capacity is reduced," said Lair.

Lair said that means you could find boulders and logs on the trails.

"The trails that don't get the maintenance every year are going to be the more remote trails, some of the lesser used back country trails," said Lair.

Megan Showalter enjoys hiking on the trails.  She said if the trails aren't kept up the way they are now, she might stop using them.

"I don't mind some climbing over things and some hiking, but I wouldn't like for it to get any worse," said Showalter.  "This is my limit."

Lair says the forest service tries to get to every trail.

"We prioritize our trails and we hit the areas that are most in need or the highest used or we get the most requests on," said Lair.

The U.S. Forest Service says will look for ways to close the funding gap.

Lair says the trails off the beaten path will be maintained on a rotating basis.

The Gallatin National Forest alone has 2800 miles of trails.

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