The United States Forest Service

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Originating back to 1905, the USFS has been responsible for managing 193 million acres of land in the United states. That's nearly 25%! In that land includes 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands. Since then the Forest Service has been tasked with managing many activities in wilderness ranging from recreational to economical. During the past 110 years the mission of the United States Forest Service has been to protect the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands for now and the generations to come. They sum this all up in their slogan "Caring for the Land and Serving People".

Operating Regions

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  • Northern Region: based in Missoula, Montana, the Northern Region (R1) covers six states (Montana, Northern Idaho, North Dakota, Northwestern South Dakota, Northeast Washington, and Northwest Wyoming), twelve National Forests and one National Grassland.

  • Rocky Mountain: based in Golden, Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Region (R2) covers five states (Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas and most of Wyoming and South Dakota), sixteen National Forests and seven National Grasslands.

  • Southwestern: based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the Southwestern Region (R3) covers two states (New Mexico and Arizona) and eleven National Forests.

  • Intermountain: based in Ogden, Utah, the Intermountain Region (R4) covers four states (Southern Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Western Wyoming), twelve national forests.

  • Pacific Southwest: based in Vallejo, California, The Pacific Southwest Region (R5) covers two states (California and Hawaii), eighteen National Forests and one Management Unit.

  • Pacific Northwest: based in Portland, Oregon the Pacific Northwest Region (R6) covers two states (Washington and Oregon), twenty-one National Forests and one National Scenic Area.

  • Southern: based in Atlanta, Georgia, the Southern Region (R8) covers thirteen states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia; and Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands), and thirty-four National Forests.

  • Eastern: based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Eastern Region (R9) covers twenty states (Maine, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Delaware, and New Jersey), seventeen National Forests, one Grassland and America's Outdoors Center for Conservation, Recreation, and Resources.

  • Alaska: based in Juneau, Alaska, the Alaska Region (R10) covers one state (Alaska), and two National Forests.

Responsiblites of the USFS


Similar to logging, the USFS lets mining companies use the public land in exchange for royalties. They also make sure the mining companies don't pollute the environment by placing a number of regulations they must abide by, like the mining act of 1872.

UN International Categories

National parks- the USFS is involved in many national parks by protecting them.

Manage Resource Protected Area- USFS puts limits on the lumber industry to try and reduce the amount of damage done by them.

Habitat/species Management Areas- manages the species of plants in the area, even trying to protect ecosystems from invasive species

Strict Nature Reserve and Wilderness Areas- the USFS protects wilderness areas trying to keep them in their natural state and prevent human intervention

Protected landscapes and seascapes- The USFS watches over certain areas that are appealing to humans, making sure they stay untouched and clean from human litter.

Laws and Policies

The Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960 - policy and purpose of the National Forests to provide for multiple-use and sustained yield of products and services.

Forest and Range Renewable Resources Planning - establishes public land policy and guidelines for the management, protection, development, and enhancement of the public lands.

The Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act - directs the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a program of land conservation and utilization to correct maladjustments in land use and thus assist such things as control of soil erosion, reforestation, preservation of natural resources and protection of fish and wildlife.

The Endangered Species Act of 1973 - protects animal and plant species currently in danger of extinction (endangered) and those that may become endangered in the foreseeable future (threatened). It provides for the conservation of ecosystems upon which threatened and endangered species of fish, wildlife, and plants depend, both through Federal action and by encouraging the establishment of state programs.

The National Historic Preservation Act - secures protection of archaeological resources and sites on public and Indian lands.

The Clean Water Act - sets the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants to waters of the United States. This is a link to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) web site.

The Wilderness Act of 1964 - established the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Sustainable Practices of the USFS

  • Improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, through the reduction of energy.
  • Shift toward renewable energy such as solar power and biomass.
  • Reduce water consumption in our buildings, grounds and related facilities.
  • Increase the sustainability performance of purchased goods and services, and the performance of our suppliers, contractors and partners.
  • Increase the number of Forest Service buildings that are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.
  • Improve our transportation and travel practices, which in turn will reduce harmful emissions, increase operational and fuel efficiency, and reduce the use of non-renewable fuel.
  • Minimize waste generation and reduce landfill use. Reduce, reuse and recycle materials.

Room for Improvement

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Log Probs

The Forest Service has not always been the best with handling land for logging. Just this year the Forest Service gave a logging company in Alaska permission to clear cut 6,200 acres of old forest. This could cause serious damage to the ecosystem, along with the local fishing industry which the local towns depend on so much. While this logging deal might supply the USFS with a lot of money, the first priority of the USFS should be to protect and then to profit.
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In recent years forest fires have become an increasingly larger problem, and the Forest service is not adapting well to this. Calls have been made to reform the USFS's forest fire management, however those voices have had trouble surfacing. Some credit the suppression of these protests due to congress's recent debate over the budget of the USFS, but nothing can be confirmed.