REGIONAL – Several local improvement projects have been selected for the Superior National Forest this year as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. The selected projects will be the first …
REGIONAL – Several local improvement projects have been selected for the Superior National Forest this year as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. The selected projects will be the first round of improvements to address deferred maintenance on the Forest.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $285 million to help the Forest Service address critical deferred maintenance and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure on national forests and grasslands.
This investment is made possible by the newly-created National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, established in 2020 by the Great American Outdoors Act. These funds will allow the Forest Service to implement more than 500 infrastructure improvement projects essential to the continued use and enjoyment of national forests and grasslands.
The Great American Outdoors Act is a direct response to the backlog of deferred maintenance on national forest and grasslands, according to Joanna Gilkeson, USFS public affairs specialist.
Funding is included for roads and bridges, visitor centers, campgrounds and other facilities.
The South Kawishiwi Pavilion is slated to receive structural repair and restoration.
“This is a historic CCC era log structure near the Kawishiwi River, and is a popular place for weddings, reunions and other events,” Gilkeson said. The Great American Outdoors Act project replaces two rotted logs near the main entrance of the pavilion, located at the South Kawishiwi Campground, and constructs a new ramp to restore accessibility. “This project will complete the restoration on the structure which began in 2010, allowing for the building to be fully useable by the public once again,” she said.
Repairs and upgrades in the Kawishiwi District include improvements to the Secret Black- stone Trail. “Workers will bring the trail back up to maintenance standards by improving tread and the trail prism, improve and clear water diversion devices along the trail, and clear any fallen trees or brush,” she said.
Multiple Superior trails will receive deferred maintenance and rehabilitation, including trail maintenance on 13 trails over 20 miles, trail bridge replacements, replacement of wooden staircases with rock stairways, repair and replacement of puncheon, and improvement to erosion control.
Also, as many as 20 recreational facilities across the Superior National Forest, including campgrounds, will receive facility upgrades. Projects include trail/ pathway maintenance, erosion control, pavilion updates, replacing and repairing docks and swimming platforms, replacement of picnic tables, tent pads, fire rings, and other minor constructed features.
Ely-area projects include:
• Snowbank Landing- canoe landing erosion control, replace dock and repair retaining wall.
• South Kawishiwi Campground - upgrade signage and gate, replace parking barriers and repair campground stairways.
• South Kawishiwi River swim site and picnic area - upgrade signage, parking barriers, and stairways.
• South Kawishiwi River boat access- replace parking barriers.
• Fenske Lake Campground - pavilion repair (northern Bedrock historic corp), upgrade signage, parking barriers, gates, and pathway.
• Fenske Lake swim site - replace watercraft swim rescue station.
• Fenske Lake fishing pier- repair dock and railings.
• Birch Lake Campground - upgrade solar well, gates, signage, parking barriers, and stairways.
• Fall Lake Swim site - upgrade signage, parking barriers, and stairways.
• Fall Lake Campground - upgrade signage, parking barriers, and stairways.
• Prairie Portage Dock (basswood lake) - replace dock.
“Our forests and grasslands are one of our nation’s greatest treasures and one of the most effective natural carbon captures that exist to help combat the effects of climate change,” Secretary Vilsack said. “Millions of people each year enjoy forests and grasslands, and these investments will promote public-private partnerships, tourism and recreation, protect public lands, and ensure our national forests are accessible to all. These investments will also serve as a catalyst for rural economic development and employment opportunities.”
The Great American Outdoors Act authorizes funding under the Legacy Restoration Fund annually through fiscal year 2025. Forest Service economists estimate that projects funded with these dollars will support roughly 4,400 jobs and contribute $420 million to the gross domestic product.
Forest Service infrastructure supports more than 300 million recreationists, first responders such as wildland firefighters, and other users of Forest Service roads. Each year, visitors to the national forests contribute almost $11 billion to the U.S. economy, which sustains more than 148,000 jobs.
More information about these projects can be found at www.fs.usda.gov.