1. The forest transportation system is
extensive and diverse; it includes an estimated 380,000
miles of Forest Service roads. Public roads, such as State
and county roads, and private roads maintained by others on
National Forest System lands, also exist.
a. Approximately one-fourth (22
percent) of all Forest Service roads serve passenger car
b. Over one-half (55 percent) of all
Forest Service roads are maintained for high-clearance
c. Approximately one-fourth (23
percent) of all Forest Service roads are closed to highway
use by the public. Closed roads may be used for a variety
of recreation uses, and for forest administration and
d. Currently, Forest Service
inventories have identified at least 60,000 miles of
unclassified roads including temporary roads and roads
that were never planned, built, or maintained to safety,
service, and environmental standards. It is anticipated
that future inventories will verify the existence of
substantially more miles of unclassified roads.
e. More than 7,000 bridges on Forest
Service roads exist; three-fourths of these are on the
roads serving passenger car use.
f. In 1998, new construction of
Forest Service roads was 215 miles or .06 percent of the
total Forest Service road system. New construction has
trended downward annually from 2,310 miles in 1988.
2. While a significant portion of the
192 million acres of the National Forest System is roaded, a
significant and ecologically critical portion remains
a. Some 34.7 million acres are
currently designated as wilderness; approximately 6
million acres were proposed for wilderness designation in
b. The National Forest System has an
estimated 50 million acres of roadless areas are
inventoried through national roadless area review in the
1970s (RARE II) or through subsequent regional and local
forest planning activities.
3. Current funding is inadequate to
maintain all the existing roads to intended safety, service,
and environmental standards to permit efficient and safe
use, while mitigating adverse environmental impacts.
a. The Forest Service has available
only about 20 percent of funds necessary to fully maintain
Forest Service roads to intended safety, service, and
environmental standards. As a result, roads not fully
maintained become restricted to use by high clearance
vehicles or are gated.
b. The backlog of deferred road
maintenance and reconstruction needs on Forest Service
roads is $8.4 billion. This backlog is due to the age of
the arterial and collector roads (three-fourths are over
50-years old), heavy use, and the lack of regular
c. From 1991 to 1997, the Forest
Service decommissioned an average of 2,700 miles of roads