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GAO report: Forest Service trails suffer lack of maintenance

July 11th, 2013 - 3:13pm

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - A government report finds that hiking trails on national forests suffer from a 314-million dollar backlog in maintenance.

The Government Accountability Office report found only a quarter of the national forest system's 158-thousand miles of trails meets quality standards, so people use them less and the environment is damaged.

It adds that the U.S. Forest Service relies heavily on volunteers to maintain trails but does not train its staff to work effectively with them.

Jim Furnish is a retired Forest Service deputy chief for the forest system.

He says the problem goes back decades, and results from the Forest Service and Congress making recreation a low priority.

Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers says the agency agrees with the findings and will look for ways to close the funding gap.

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