A Year Of Putting Americans To Work To Improve Our National Forests

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During the Great Depression, President Roosevelt called on the Forest Service for help. Through the Civilian Conservation Corps, we engaged millions of unemployed citizens, helping to rebuild lives and provide a lasting service to the nation through fire control, reforestation, and early construction of roads, trails and facilities.

Last year, America faced the greatest economic downturn since the 1930s. Last month marked the one year anniversary of the signing of the Recovery Act. And the Forest Service is once again putting Americans back to work in the cause of conservation.

The Forest Service is ideally situated to help. Many of the communities most affected by the economic hard times are located near national forests. Our employees are woven into the community fabric; we know local needs, and we have the local capacity to provide training and employment. Projects chosen to use Recovery Act funds were specifically targeted to these economically distressed communities.

Millions of acres are in need of restoration work. Roads, bridges, buildings, and recreational facilities need repair. Through Job Corps Conservation Centers and agreements with youth conservation organizations, we have been providing training opportunities and paychecks for those young men and women entering the work force for the first time.

Here in Arizona, the Recovery Act is putting men and women to work rehabilitating a popular campground on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests which received a major face-lift thanks to $1.23 million of Recovery Act funds.

Several local contractors were hired to completely revamp the roads system within the campground. Existing asphalt roads were reconfigured for accessibility and replaced with a stabilized gravel surface. Another local contractor replaced the existing 30-year-old flush toilet bathrooms for vault toilet models that meet accessibility requirements. The improvements will help reduce future maintenance costs.

This spring, contractors will use $800,000 to construct a new RV dump station; replace the existing walkways, picnic tables, fire rings, and shower facility to meet accessibility requirements; reconstruct the existing 40-year-old water system; and connect the wastewater system for the RV dump station and shower facility to the local sanitary district.

As the current economic situation has been particularly hard for those in the construction and tourism industries, this project funded several construction-related jobs, and the improvements have allowed for the continued operation of a campground that provides accommodations to thousands of visitors each year, stimulating the local economy long term.

Creating these job opportunities gives our communities the chance to participate in developing sustainability technologies and to accomplish some of our highest priority stewardship work on public, state and private lands.

Across the nation, Forest Service Recovery Act projects are already helping forests and grasslands adapt to climate change, produce cleaner and more abundant water, and improving forest resiliency and biological diversity. We are promoting alternative, clean energy sources to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. And by putting people to work, we are contributing to stronger communities adjacent to our public lands and providing safe access to the forests and grasslands for their use and enjoyment by people of all abilities.

For more information, please go to our Recovery Act Web site: http://fs.usda.gov/ recovery.

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