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story.lead_photo.caption FILE: The Mark Twain National Forest is shown. Photo by Olivia Garrett / Fulton Sun.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Eastern Region invites the public to comment on potential maintenance projects planned for fiscal year 2022, including some in Mark Twain National Forest.

This summer, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, a massive piece of land conservation legislation setting aside millions to tackle deferred maintenance projects on national parks and public lands.

The Mark Twain National Forest, which sprawls over 1.5 million acres in 29 Missouri counties including Callaway County, has a list of 19 proposed projects for consideration for prioritized funding.

"Projects funded by this act will focus on improving conditions on forest and rangelands, reducing wildfire risk and increasing the resiliency of our nation's forests for present and future generations," according to the Forest Service Eastern Region's online list of projects.

To comment on the projects, submit feedback online by Monday.

When the legislation was signed into law in August, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, R-MO, called the Great American Outdoors Act "one of the most important packages of conservation legislation we've seen in decades."

It also provides permanent funding for the Land and Wildlife Conservation Fund, which helps fund national parks, wildlife refuges, rivers and lakes, as well as local projects and community parks, trails and ballfields.

The full list of Eastern Region projects can be viewed at fs.usda.gov/detail/r9/home/?cid=FSEPRD796841.

Projects include upgrades such as administrative site HVAC system improvements, road and parking resurfacing, campground host site improvements, stream and low water crossing replacements, trash site removal and signing updates.

There is currently a $5.2 billion deferred maintenance backlog on national forests and grasslands — $3.7 billion for roads and bridges and $1.5 billion for visitor centers, campgrounds and other facilities.

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