History & Culture

Brief History of the U.S. Forest Service

Established in 1905, the Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the mission of the Forest Service— "to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run. National forests and grasslands encompass 193 million acres of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas.

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. These webpages are intended to document some of that long history.

From the beginning of his career as the first Chief of the USFS, Gifford Pinchot recognized the value of photography to explain, educate, and influence the public as he worked to introduce the new field of forestry. To learn more about the massive and rich resource that grew out of his enthusiasm, see “SHOOT: Over 100 Years of Forest Service Photography” by former USFS Historian, Aaron Shapiro.

How the National Forests in Mississippi Came To Be

The Bienville and Holly Springs National Forests were established on June 15, 1936. On June 17, 1936, the De Soto National Forest was established followed by the Homochitto National Forest on June 20, 1936. In the latter part of 1936, the four National Forests were combined administratively to become what is called the "National Forests in Mississippi". On November 27, 1959, the Tombigbee National Forest was formed and administratively added with the others. Finally, on January 12, 1961, the Delta National Forest was established and added to what is now the National Forests in Mississippi. The Supervisor's Office is located in Jackson, Mississippi, while each of the National Forests maintain a local administrative office (Ranger District Office) near or in the Forest it manages.

Purpose of the Archaeology and Heritage Program

Our Forest Service archaeologists' main concern is the protection and preservation of our cultural heritage. The majority of their job consists of compliance work - carrying out specific tasks that adhere to state and federal laws designed to protect historic and prehistoric sites. These tasks include survey, research, rehabilitation and restoration.

Before any project on national forest land is carried out, the area must be surveyed for heritage resources that could potentially be disturbed by project activities. Each project includes a report submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office. This office must concur with any proposed activities before project implementation can occur.

In addition to locating and protecting heritage resources, Forest Service archaeologists are responsible for preserving and rehabilitating heritage resource sites that might have been damaged by vandalism or environmental processes.

A large part of an archaeologist's job includes informing and educating the public about our cultural heritage and why it is necessary to preserve our past.


Archaeologists strive o protect significant heritage resources, to share their values with the American people, and to contribute relevant information and perspectives to natural resource management. In so doing wewill:

  • Ensure that future generations will have an opportunity to discover the human story etched on the landscapes of the Daniel Boone National Forest;

  • Make the past come alive as a vibrant part of our recreational experiences and community life; and

  • Connect people to the land in a way that will help us better understand and manage forest ecosystems.