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Federal cutbacks reduce funds for national forest trail work

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BOZEMAN (AP) – Changes made at the federal level that alter the way money is doled out between the different regions of the Forest Service could have a significant impact at the Custer Gallatin National Forest.

The budget is down approximately $90,000 for trail work, the first of three budget cuts that are expected to reduce forest trail work funding there by about $300,000 over the next two years.

The budget cuts vary by region. By 2018, the region that includes all of the federally managed forests in Montana will get 30 percent less than it has in the past few years. Some forests in western Montana, however, are getting more money for restorative work because of wildfires last year.

Forest Service spokeswoman Marna Daley said the agency’s regional office in Missoula took some of the cuts, reducing the impact, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported. “We are down forest-wide in our trails program, but not as significantly as we could have been,” Daley said.

The Forest Service is already hiring workers for this year, and officials say they don’t expect significant problems completing trail projects this year. As budgets get tighter, there will be less money for hiring workers, Daley said.

In 2015, the Custer Gallatin National Forest had approximately $900,000 for trails work. By 2018, that budget is expected to drop to about $610,000. The total budget for the forest this year is approximately $20 million.

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