The Great American Outdoors Act

Addressing deferred maintenance on National Forests in Colorado

Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, our National Forests host 170 million visits every year. These lands are the foundation of America’s outdoor recreation heritage. The National Forest infrastructure requires maintenance every year, which has been woefully underfunded to keep up with it for some time now. For decades this lack of funding has accumulated billions of dollars in deferred maintenance - or scheduled maintenance that doesn’t get done. Every instance of deferred maintenance puts the U.S. Forest Service even further behind, creating a backlog that keeps growing. Today, the Forest Service has a deferred maintenance backlog of more than $5.2 billion.

With the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) in 2020, the bill provides federal land management agencies with critical resources to address deferred maintenance backlog on our public lands. Learn more here. The NFF partners with the U.S. Forest Service to engage Americans in the health and public enjoyment of our National Forests and Grasslands and in several places across the nation we are working in lockstep with agency to plan, design, and implement the GAOA. The NFF supports GAOA programming by coordinating projects, issuing sub-awards to partners and leveraging federal funds to raise additional funding for projects.

What are we up to in Colorado?

Trail Restoration on the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests - Approximately 2.27 million visitors recreate on the GMUG annually, based on 2014 data – and that number has most assuredly grown in recent years. However, the trail system suffers from neglect due to competing priorities, limited capacity and funding, plus the enormity of the trail system. Trails in the Colorado Rockies are highly erodible due to severe weather, steep gradients, and a variety of recreational use.

The NFF helps to identify trails for clearing accumulations of down trees, repairing failed drainage structures, and rebuilding lost tread where weather and use has reduced trail quality. To implement trail restoration, the NFF works with Forest Service recreation staff, local trail organizations, volunteer stewardship groups, youth conservation corps and contractors to ensure project completion. More than 40 trails and 220 miles are identified for deferred maintenance over the next 5 years.

Campground Reconstruction on the GMUG and San Isabel National Forests – The NFF is assisting with campground reconstruction at four locations in Colorado – Monarch Park, Deer Lakes, Lake Irwin, and Little Bear campgrounds. The work will have multiple phases with the first being design. This will include surveying the current conditions of the recreation sites and dreaming up new design elements - camping pads for tents, trailers, and RV’s; fire rings and picnic tables; restrooms; walking paths and fishing access.

Kiosk Replacement on the GMUG National Forests - Kiosks are critical infrastructure to supply information to visitors about a recreation site, trails, roads, fire restrictions, camping, and much more. The NFF coordinates closely with the GMUG National Forests and partners, including local and regional contractors, to build 50 new kiosk structures, design and print the informational posters, and install the new infrastructure on the forests. The project started fall of 2021 and aims to have new infrastructure on the ground in summer 2022.

Gunnison Nf Rustlers Gulch Kate Jerman

GAOA projects focus on improving conditions of public lands for present and future generations – which aligns squarely with the NFF mission to bring people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands. Working on behalf of the American public, the NFF is excited to be working side-by-side with the Forest Service and community partners to reduce deferred maintenance and enhance recreation infrastructure for improved visitor experience.


To learn more

Maddie Rehn, Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison National Forests Project Coordinator, at 970.222.3709 or