MISSOULA - The official in charge of spending dollars from the Great American Outdoors Act is encouraged to see how hundreds of thousands of dollars are going to be spent to help with the recreation boom in Montana.
Undersecretary for Natural Resources and the Environment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dr. Homer Wilkes is just wrapping up a week-long tour of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) operations in Western Montana.
His visit comes as USDA just announced more than $500,000,000 being released for projects.
That includes another shot of money for the 3200-acre Pattee Canyon Recreation Area, bringing the total to almost $300,000 in the past two years. The money will pay for a new pavilion at the group camp, plus work on roads, trails, and other infrastructure.
"We actually have some deferred maintenance that takes place in our forests. So that funding came down is sustained funding. We can plan some things out and we can begin to implement some things that we will need to do over those years," Wilkes told reporters Friday afternoon.
"In my opinion, the work that we need to get done out here is too large for any individual or entity. So that partnership is going to be critical. And they'll divide those funds up to whoever can bring funds to the table and leveraging and so forth. Because we would like for these dollars to go as far as they possibly can."
The Great American Outdoors Act funding is set for another five years and Wilkes is hopeful the funding will be re-authorized by Congress.