Statutory and Regulatory Background

Section 1119, part (m) of the SAFETEA-LU legislation (P.L. 109-59), as amended by the SAFETEA-LU Technical Corrections Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-244), modified the existing Forest Highway program as defined in 23 USC Section 204 and 23 CFR 660 as follows:

Forest Highways—Of the amounts made available for public lands highways under section 1101—

  1. not more than $20,000,000 for each fiscal year may be used for the maintenance of forest highways;
  2. not more than $1,000,000 for each fiscal year may be used for signage identifying public hunting and fishing access; and
  3. not more than $10,000,000 for each fiscal year shall be used by the Secretary of Agriculture to pay the costs of facilitating the passage of aquatic species beneath forest roads (as defined in section 101(a) of title 23, United States Code), including the costs of constructing, maintaining, replacing, and removing culverts and bridges, as appropriate.

FHWA Interpretation

  • All amounts listed in Sec. 1119(m) are Forest Highway (FH) program funds.  They will not impact the Public Lands Highways – Discretionary program.
  • The amounts listed in Sec. 1119(m)(1) and 1119(m)(2) are not set-asides; they will not be separated from the FH formula.  Rather, they are newly eligible activities of the FH program, with funding limits on those activities.  Any funding spent on maintenance or hunting/fishing signs will come directly from the States’ annual allocation of FH funds.  Tracking will be required for any FH funding spent on these activities to ensure that the funding caps are not exceeded.
  • Maintenance and sign projects will be treated just like any other FH project: they must be put into the multi-year FH plan, and agreed to by representatives of the Forest Service (FS), the Federal Highway Administration, and the relevant State Highway Administration.  Maintenance is defined in 23 USC 101(a)(14): The term “maintenance” means the preservation of the entire highway, including surface, shoulders, roadsides, structures, and such traffic-control devices as are necessary for safe and efficient utilization of the highway.
  • Per Sec. 1119(m)(3), $10,000,000 per year is to be used by the Forest Service for Aquatic Organism Passage projects within the National Forest System.  The FS creates a nationally prioritized list of projects each year.  These funds will come off the top of the Forest Highway program.  Because this section of law gives the Secretary of Agriculture sole discretion over these funds, they are not subject to the usual tri-partite FH agreement.  Since the FS will use the total amount available for Aquatic Organism Passage projects, no Aquatic Organism Passage projects should be advanced using standard FH funds allocated to the States or Federal Lands Highway Divisions under the FH formula.

A hunting and fishing access sign brochure  (Acrobat, 2.08 MB) was produced by the FS in 2007 to help facilitate access sign projects nationwide.