Your Great Lakes National Forest

As one of 155 Forest Service units charged with carrying out the agency's mission, Hiawatha National Forest manages a wide portfolio of uses that provide far-reaching benefits for the American public and the Nation's natural resources.  This series of feature stories highlights the various contributions of the Forest to local communities, the economy and the environment.

Mission and Vision

Inspiring Unforgettable Experience and Sustaining Ecosystems & Livelihoods

As one of 155 Forest Service units charged with carrying out the agency's mission, Hiawatha National Forest manages a wide portfolio of uses that provide far-reaching benefits for the American public and the Nation's natural resources. 

Follow the links to learn more about the benefits provided by Your Great Lakes National Forest!

Mission and Benefits of Hiawatha National Forest

Congress established the U.S. Forest Service in 1905 during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration at the height of the conservation era.  In many ways it was – and is -- the quintessential conservation agency.  Then as now, the Forest Service promoted science, efficiency, professionalism, and integrity.

Nationally, the United States Forest Service is known by its motto: “caring for the land and serving people,” which neatly boils down the agency’s multifaceted mission and vision statements (  If you look at those full-length mission and vision statements, however, you see that the Forest Service has one of the most complex and broadly beneficial missions of all public land management agencies.  Congress envisioned National Forests as a “multiple-use” lands providing sustainable supplies of a wide range of resources -- from timber and clean drinking water to habitat for endangered plants and game and non-game species; from recreation opportunities like OHV use, mountain bike trails, and dispersed camping to primitive Wildernesses experiences; from heritage sites to utility rights of way to firewood cutting permits to National Recreation Areas.  You name it, the Forest Service has likely been asked to manage it! 

As one of 155 Forest Service units charged with carrying out these overarching directions, Hiawatha National Forest manages a wide portfolio of uses. 

According to Forest Supervisor Jo Reyer, “Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the National Forest to meet the needs of present and future generations through conservation.  As a result, Hiawatha National Forest provides a broad assortment of services and resources to benefit local communities and the nation as a whole.”

While Hiawatha National Forest has many similarities to other National Forests across the country, each Forest has its own particular footprint.  For instance, as the only National Forest with lands touching Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan, the Hiawatha is known as “the Great Lakes National Forest.”  The Forest’s lakeside setting makes it unique among National Forests, resulting in distinctive wetlands habitats, “lake effect” recreation opportunities, and Great Lakes-influenced resources such as islands, heritage sites and lighthouses.

“Our employees’ vision is that ‘your Great Lakes National Forest’ inspires unforgettable experiences and sustains ecosystems and livelihoods through collaborative, science-based land management,” explains Reyer.

This Forest-specific vision supports the Congressionally-mandated function of the agency, but also hints at local flavor.  With almost 1 million acres altogether, Hiawatha National Forest’s east and west units play a distinctive and important role in supporting the quality of life we enjoy in the Upper Peninsula. 

The National Forest sustains healthy ecosystems across the land.  Per the 2006 Forest Plan, we manage Hiawatha National Forest lands for a wide variety of integrated natural and cultural resource purposes.  For example, federal forests provide timber production; wildlife and plant habitat game and non-game species; wild and scenic rivers; fire protection; wilderness; developed recreation (like campgrounds, cabins, ski trails or snowmobile trails); utility corridors; heritage sites; and much more.

“All of these uses relate to the health of the ecosystems we manage – as well as to the livelihoods of local families who benefit from what Forests provide,” points out Reyer. 

For instance, last year Hiawatha National Forest sold about forty-four million board feet of timber, which translates into a significant benefit for the area economy and for certain species.  Further, National Forests protect the watersheds that provide 20% of the nation’s clean drinking water.  In addition, the Hiawatha’s roads and scenic landscapes provide access to many attractions that serve and inspire visitors from far and near, supporting quality of life and tourist economies in communities throughout the eastern and central Upper Peninsula. 

From the soaring cliffs and sandy beaches of Grand Island National Recreation Area to the monarch research plots at Peninsula Point Lighthouse; from the meandering fall color drive along Whitefish Scenic Byway to the tranquil campsites at one of our eighteen developed campgrounds; from over 160 miles of designated snowmobile trails to the stellar cross-country ski trails – Hiawatha National Forest offers an impressive array of campgrounds, trails, historic sites, and interpretive programming.  There is truly something for just about everyone!

In everything they do, our Forest employees work toward what I believe is an undeniably important mission,” stated Reyer.

Over the coming months, the Forest will be providing a series of articles to share more information about the many services provided on the Hiawatha National Forest. 

“Each month we will focus on a new topic,” Reyer announced.

One reason for the articles, she explained, is to share information with the public.  In today’s fast-paced world, land managers know that the public is increasingly disconnected from the natural world and unaware of the value of public lands.  Next month’s story will address the Forest Service transportation system.

“We hope these articles will help inspire readers to value and protect their National Forests and other public lands,” concluded Reyer.

In the meantime, for information about the Forest and its resources, visit the Forest’s webpage at: or call your local district office.