Deadline approaches for national forest project proposals, Routt County has $116K to spend |

Deadline approaches for national forest project proposals, Routt County has $116K to spend

Routt County has $116,000 to spend on ideas that benefit natural resources on U.S. Forest Service land, through the Secure Rural Schools Act. The deadline to submit project proposals to The Greater Rocky Mountain Resource Advisory Committee is Feb. 17.

The resource advisory committee covers nine national forests that span over 29 counties in Colorado and Wyoming. Past projects in this program have included watershed restoration, stream stabilization, invasive plant treatments, native plant reestablishment, wildlife and fish habitat improvements, enhanced soil productivity, and road maintenance. All projects should pertain to forest health, fish, wildlife, soils, watersheds, or other resources; maintain, de-commission or obliterate roads; improve trails and other infrastructure; or control noxious weeds. 

Consulting local forest experts and rangers, Routt County commissioners are trying to find a beneficial project to put this $116,000 toward, an amount they have indicated will only cover smaller, less expensive projects.

“When we consider projects, we look at whether or not they feed into our forest priorities, which are vegetation, fuels, land management and providing world class recreation.” said Michael Woodbridge, district ranger for the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District. “We also have to consider the scale of any potential landscape work that needs to happen.”

In order to use this money in the most efficient manner, commissioners indicate they plan to create a proposal that will not take an abundance of time and effort. They will likely lean toward a project that is easy to get both a financial and time estimate for, like spraying noxious weeds or paving county and national forest roads.

“(Paving roads is) a very easy project to estimate, from past experience we know pretty exactly what it costs us per mile to lay down two inches of gravel,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said. “Since we would repair something that already exists as opposed to building something new, the process would be exempt from an environmental review process.”

According to Corrigan, environmental impact statements and analysis can take years to complete and they elongate the process overall. If the county chooses to create a proposal for a project that repairs rather than builds, it could serve as a huge time-saver.

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The Secure Rural Schools program provides payments to counties as compensation for the loss of tax income associated with the federal land in the counties’ boundaries. Title II of this program is specifically for projects that provide direct or indirect resources to federal land. Following receiving ideas, commissioners will craft a proposal for a feasible project to get a letter of support from Woodbridge.

That letter of support is included in the project proposal application, which next goes to the committee to review and make a recommendation to a designated federal official about whether the project is worth funding with the $116,000 from Title II, as the program requires congressional authorization.

The committee will remain a part of the process throughout by monitoring and advising projects in addition to providing recommendations for appropriate changes.

A county’s Title II is subject to reallocation if the committee decides one particular county needs the funds more. Although unlikely that this will happen to Routt County, the possibility still remains.

Applicants are encouraged to consult their local district ranger prior to the proposal submission. Applications and more information can be found on the Greater Rocky Mountain Resource Advisory Committee website.

The Resource Advisory Committee will reconvene in April to review applications. Chosen projects have to be initiated by Sept. 30, 2025, and the funds must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2026. 

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