The Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that manages national forests for a number of multiple uses, including recreation, timber, wilderness, minerals, water, grazing, fish, and wildlife. Over the last century, the Forest Service has initiated numerous, innovative products and procedures, as well as led the country and the world in scientific forestry matters.
The founding of the National Forest System and the Forest Service has its roots in the last quarter of the 19th century. The United States currently has a system of 155 national forests, 20 national grasslands, and 222 research and experimental forests, as well as other special areas, covering more than 192 million acres of public land.
The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.
Motto: Caring for the Land and Serving People
The phrase, "CARING FOR THE LAND AND SERVING PEOPLE," captures the Forest Service mission. As set forth in law, the mission is to achieve quality land management under the sustainable multiple-use management concept to meet the diverse needs of people: It includes:
- Advocating a conservation ethic in promoting the health, productivity, diversity, and beauty of forests and associated lands.
- Listening to people and responding to their diverse needs in making decisions.
- Protecting and managing the National Forests and Grasslands so they best demonstrate the sustainable multiple-use management concept.
- Providing technical and financial assistance to State and private forest landowners, encouraging them to practice good stewardship and quality land management in meeting their specific objectives.
- Providing technical and financial assistance to cities and communities to improve their natural environment by planting trees and caring for their forests.
- Providing international technical assistance and scientific exchanges to sustain and enhance global resources and to encourage quality land management.
- Helping States and communities to wisely use the forests to promote rural economic development and a quality rural environment.
- Developing and providing scientific and technical knowledge aimed at improving our capability to protect, manage, and use forests and rangelands.
- Providing work, training, and education to the unemployed, underemployed, elderly, youth, and disadvantaged in pursuit of our mission.
To realize our mission and vision, we follow these 13 guiding principles:
- We use an ecological approach to the multiple-use management of the National Forests and Grasslands.
- We use the best scientific knowledge in making decisions and select the most appropriate technologies in the management of resources.
- We are good neighbors who respect private property rights.
- We strive for quality and excellence in everything we do and are sensitive to the effects of our decisions on people and resources.
- We strive to meet the needs of our customers in fair, friendly, and open ways.
- We form partnerships to achieve shared goals.
- We promote grassroots participation in our decisions and activities.
- We value and trust one another and share leadership.
- We value a multicultural organization as essential to our success.
- We maintain high professional and ethical standards.
- We are responsible and accountable for what we do.
- We recognize and accept that some conflict is natural and we strive to deal with it professionally.
- We follow laws, regulations, executive direction, and congressional intent.
Contact U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250-0003
Phone: (800) 832-1355
National service provider