Much like people, every road, every highway, has its own personality...its own character

Forest Highway (FH)
The Forest Highway Program was eliminated under MAP-21. All projects previously authorized under the Forest Highway Program and carry-over funds from SAFETEA-LU will still be administered under previous rules and regulations of the Forest Highway Program.


  • To provide safe and adequate transportation access to, within, or adjacent to National Forests or Grasslands.
  • 155 National Forests and 20 National Grasslands
  • Forest Highways assist rural and community economic development and promote tourism and travel.


  • Approximately $186,000,000/year
  • Funds allocated by formula
  • Federal Share – up to 100%
  • Designated system of roads


  • Approximately 29,000 miles of state & local roads
  • To be designated as a FH, a route must:
    1. Be wholly or partially within, or adjacent to, and serving the National Forest System
    2. Be necessary for the protection, administration, and utilization of the NFS
    3. Be necessary for the use and development of NFS resources
    4. Be under the jurisdiction of a cooperator and open to public travel
    5. Provide a connection between NFS resources and one of the following:
      • A safe and adequate public road
      • Communities
      • Shipping points
      • Markets dependent on these resources
    6. Serve one of the following:
      • Local needs such as schools, mail delivery, commercial supply
      • Access to private property within the NFS
      • A preponderance of NFS generated traffic 
      • NFS generated traffic that has a significant impact on roadway design and construction

Program Administration:

  • Tri-party program
    • Forest Service, State DOT, and FHWA
  • Program meetings
    • Update the Obligation Plan
  • Prioritize projects
    • Establish a 5-year program of projects
    • Review the status of current projects


Criteria for project selections:

  1. The development, utilization, protection, and administration of the NFS and its renewable resources.
  2. The enhancement of economic development at the local, regional, and national level.
  3. The continuity of the transportation network serving the NFS and the communities that are economically dependent upon it.
  4. The mobility of the users of the transportation network and the goods and services provided.
  5. The protection and enhancement of the rural environment associated with the NFS and its renewable resources.
  6. The results from pavement, bridge, and safety management systems. 


Forest Highway Program

  • Federal Share – up to 100%
  • Loan/Borrow
  • Advance Construction

Funds can be used for:

  • Planning, research, engineering, and construction
  • Transit facilities within the public lands
  • Any type of Title 23 transportation project providing access to or within the Federal lands.
  • Transportation planning for tourism and recreational travel that benefits recreational development.

Other project related items:

  • Adjacent parking
  • Interpretive signage
  • Acquisition of scenic easements and sites
  • Pedestrian and bicycle provisions
  • Roadside rest areas and sanitary facilities
  • Other appropriate road facilities as determined by the FHWA
  • Right-of-Way acquisition – subject to specific approval by the FHWA
  • Maintenance is NOT eligible for funding


Roles of the Tri-Party:

  • Forest Service
    1. Identifies needs and provides forest resource information as required for routes and project support.
    2. Nominates routes for FH designation.
    3. Reviews routes proposed by the SDOT for designation.
    4. Coordinates with the SDOT and counties on proposed FH routes and projects. 
    5. Proposes projects for inclusion in the FHP.
    6. Jointly selects projects for inclusion in the FHP with the FHWA and the SDOT.
    7. Concurs in the final PS&E.
  • State DOT
    1. Identifies needs and provides information on State FH routes and projects.
    2. Nominates routes for FH designation.
    3. Reviews routes proposed by the FS for FH designation.
    4. Proposes projects for inclusion in the FHP.
    5. Jointly selects projects for the FHP with the FS and the FHWA.
    6. Concurs in the final PS&E on State routes FH projects.
    1. Administers the FHP funds.
    2. Reviews and designates proposed FH routes nominated by the SDOT and the FS.
    3. Jointly selects projects for the FHP with the FS and the SDOT.
    4. Approves the program of projects
    5. Designs and administers construction of FH if asked by the FS or the SDOT.