Forest Service, Congress Looks at Closing "Roads Less Traveled"
Washington, D.C. - Many of the "long and winding roads" that snake through New Mexico's national forests may soon disappear back into the wilderness. Congress is looking at funding a program to close unauthorized, redundant and rarely used forest roads, and a new analysis shows closing the roads will save money later.
Chris Mehl with The Wilderness Society says the Forest Service can only afford to maintain about a third of existing roads. "And so, these other roads are degrading. Every year they degrade, they become more and more likely to wash out, cause real problems for water quality, destroy fisheries, create real safety issues if somebody is using that road and doesn't know that it washed out."
"The Forest Service just can't keep up with the roads it has, and so the idea of decommissioning is that, eventually, you can keep the access, but you can get rid of some of these unwanted roads, put people to work, improve water quality."
New Mexico's forest roads alone have a maintenance backlog of over $130 million.