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Rep. Young Kim at Lake Mission Viejo

Jan 16, 2024 | Press Releases, Wildfires

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Young Kim (CA-40) and Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) introduced the Restoring Our Unopened Trails for Enjoyment and Safety (ROUTES) Act (H.R. 6994) to prioritize, streamline, and improve maintenance of federal trails, roads, campgrounds, and recreation sites damaged by certain natural disasters.

The ROUTES Act requires National Forest trails, roads, campgrounds, and recreation sites damaged and closed by natural disasters like wildfires to be restored and reopened within two years of the disaster. To meet this deadline, certain actions to restore these sites – such as renovating trails and removing hazard trees – would not be subject to an environmental assessment that can take years to complete.

Natural Resources Federal Lands Subcommittee Chairman Tom Tiffany (WI-07) joined the ROUTES Act as an original cosponsor.

“Our Forest Service Rangers work around the clock to manage forests and protect public safety. Unfortunately, significant shortages of staff and resources are making their jobs more difficult,” said Congresswoman Kim, who represents the Cleveland National Forest Trabuco District. “I’m proud to introduce the ROUTES Act to help federal land management partners prioritize resources for forests that have been damaged by wildfires, including parts of my district still recovering from the 2018 Holy Jim Fire, and restore trails and roads in a timely and safe manner for public use and enjoyment. I thank Rep. LaMalfa for joining me in this commonsense effort, and I’ll always fight for the needs of my district.”

“Nor Cal knows how excruciatingly long the post-fire recovery process can be, and much of that delay is due to unhelpful bureaucratic regulations. This bill streamlines the process for outdoor recreation that will encourage visitors and help bring back economic opportunities to the nearby towns,” said Congressman LaMalfa.

“Counties serve as gateways to the National Forest System, including recreational sites like campgrounds, trails and other infrastructure that supports our tourism economies,” said Matthew Chase, Executive Director, National Association of Counties. “The ROUTES Act would require the U.S. Forest Service to restore and renovate these public assets within two years of a natural disaster, cutting red tape and fostering conditions for economic growth. We applaud Congresswoman Young Kim for sponsoring this legislation and urge its swift passage.”

Read the bill HERE.

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