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Agency Organization

The agency is divided into four levels:


  • Commonly called the Washington Office

  • The Chief, a federal employee, reports to the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • The Chief's staff provides broad policy and direction for the agency, works with the President’s Administration to develop a budget to submit to Congress, provides information to Congress on accomplishments, and monitors activities of the agency.


  • We have nine geographic regions numbered 1 through 10; Region 7 was absorbed into other regions some years ago.

  • A regional forester oversees forest supervisors.

  • Regional office staff coordinates activities between national forests and grasslands, monitors activities on those lands to ensure quality operations, provides guidance for forest plans, and allocates budgets to the forests.

National forests and grasslands:

  • There are 154 national forests and 20 grasslands, each with several ranger districts.

  • Forest supervisors direct the work of district rangers.

  • This level coordinates activities between districts, allocates the budget, and provides technical support to each district.

Ranger district:

  • The district ranger and his or her staff is often your first point of contact with the Forest Service.

  • There are more than 600 ranger districts, each with a staff of 10 to 100 people.

  • Districts vary in size from 50,000 acres to more than 1 million acres.

  • Most of our boots on-the-ground activities occur on the ranger districts, including trail construction and maintenance, operation of campgrounds, and management of vegetation and wildlife habitat.

Agency headquarters has the following program units:

National Forest System:

  • We manage public lands, known collectively as the National Forest System, that are in 44 States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

  • These lands make up 8.5 percent of the total land area in the nation.

  • The natural resources on these lands are some of the nation's greatest assets and have major economic, environmental, and social significance for all Americans.

Forest Service Research:

  • We provide the scientific and technical knowledge necessary to protect and sustain the nation's natural resources on all lands, providing benefits to people within the capabilities of the land.

  • Research is conducted through a network of forest and range experiment stations and the Forest Products Laboratory.

State and Private Forestry:

  • We cooperate with State and local governments, forest industries, other private landowners and forest users in the management, protection, and development of forest land in non-Federal ownership.

  • Activities include cooperation in urban interface fire management and urban forestry.

  • State and Private Forestry works through the regional offices and through a special Northeastern Area office to provide these services.


  • We provide leadership, direction, quality assurance, and customer service in carrying out agency business and human resource programs, such as Americorps*, Job Corps, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, and the volunteer program.

  • The agency hires, trains, evaluates, and promotes its employees; pays employees and contractors; acquires office space, equipment and supplies; and acquires, supports, and maintains the computer and communications technology needed to ensure efficient and effective operations.

*FS does not administer the AmeriCorps program but rather works with AmeriCorps and Visita participants directly and indirectly through various partners.

International Programs:

  • The U.S. Forest Service International Programs works overseas for what we can contribute and for what we can gain.

  • By linking the skills of our field-based staff with partners overseas, we can address the world’s most critical forestry issues and concerns.

  • International Programs serves the American forestry community by combating illegal logging, conserving migratory species habitats, protecting our forests from invasive species and bringing important technologies and innovations back to the U.S.

Who are the people of the Forest Service?

  • Our workforce of approximately 30,000 employees who reflects the full range of diversity of the American people. This includes cultural and disciplinary diversity, as well as diversity in skills and abilities.

  • In the summer, the numbers increase to meet additional need for services by the recreating public.