History & Culture

What is the Forest Service?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service is a Federal agency that manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the purpose of the Forest Service - "to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run."

When and why was the Forest Service established?

Congress established the Forest Service in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the Nation's benefit. Over the years, the public has expanded the list of what they want from national forests and grasslands. Congress responded by directing the Forest Service to manage national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. Multiple use means managing resources under the best combination of uses to benefit the American people while ensuring the productivity of the land and protecting the quality of the environment.

National forests are America's great outdoors. They encompass 193 million acres (approx. 78 million hectares) of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas. National forests provide opportunities for recreation in open spaces and natural environments. With more and more people living in urban areas, national forests are becoming more important and valuable to Americans. People enjoy a wide variety of activities on national forests, including backpacking in remote, unroaded wilderness areas, mastering an all-terrain vehicle over a challenging trail, enjoying the views along a scenic byway, or fishing in a great trout stream, to mention just a few.

Who are the people of the Forest Service?

The Forest Service has a workforce of approximately 30,000 employees that 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. If you are a high school or college student, senior citizen, or interested volunteer, there are opportunities for you in the Forest Service.



The Eldorado came into being on July 28, 1910 when legislation carved it out of the Stanislaus and Tahoe National Forests. The Eldorado and visitors celebrated the Eldorado's birthday in 2010.

The Forest History Society

The United States Forest Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has existed for more than one hundred years with the express purpose of managing public forests and grasslands. Much can be learned about the changing attitudes of the American people toward nature, natural resources, and each other, by examining the history of the USFS. This website is intended to document some of that long history.

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