The Heritage Program protects and shares significant cultural resources on public lands, ensuring that future generations can understand the human stories present on the landscapes of our national forests and grasslands.
In addition to managing them for public use, enjoyment and education, the Forest Service protects cultural resources from vandalism, theft, fire, and other threats.
The program aims to incorporate our shared history as a part of our recreational experiences and community life.
In partnership with other land managing agencies, local communities, stakeholders, and Tribes, the program contributes to economic and cultural sustainability in a manner sensitive to traditional cultures and local/regional priorities.
“The Congress in 1966 declared it to be our national policy that the Federal government will 'administer federally owned, administered, or controlled prehistoric and historic resources in a spirit of stewardship for the inspiration and benefit of present and future generations.' To this end, the Forest Service will provide leadership in preserving America’s heritage through responsible stewardship activities that recognize, preserve, protect, enhance, and use cultural resources for the greatest public benefit." – USFS Heritage Manual
Heritage Program activities address three broad areas of responsibilities to:
- Protect historic properties
- Share their values with the American people
- Contribute relevant information and perspectives to natural resource management.
Coordination and consultation with local communities, Tribal governments, and historic preservation organizations ensures that Federal agencies apply consistent criteria to protect cultural resources on public lands as well as manage areas of traditional importance. The Forest Service aims to fully integrate opportunities for preservation, protection, and utilization of cultural resources into land use planning and decisions.