About the Area

El Yunque National Forest header

Why National Forests?

  • National Forests in the Southern Region are managed to strike a balance between protecting wild places for recreation and wildlife habitat, while also providing for resource development.
  • National Forests in the South are a popular recreation destination! With nearly 1,700 developed recreation sites and 11,262 miles of trails, Southern National Forests see nearly 24 million visits a year.
  • National Forests in the South provide for clean air and water; provide valuable habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals; and supply abundant water for homes and industry.
  • Southern Forests are highly productive with favorable climate conditions and plentiful rainfall. As a result, Southern Forests are a valuable source for wood and wood products.

Caring for the Land and Serving People

The Southern Region is a dynamic collection of lands, cared for by people as a legacy for future generations. We believe that benefits to people flow from healthy land, that healthy land is conserved through wise management, and that management is most effective when shared.

Pie chart showing forest ownership in the Southern RegionOf the 244 million acres of forests in the Southern Region, 211 million acres are privately owned. The Forest Service manages more than 13 million acres while other public landowners manage about 20 million acres.

Managing forests in the South takes an all-lands approach, sharing stewardship across broad landscapes, to meet the Forest Service goals of conserving and sustaining the nation’s forests and grasslands for multiple uses.

In the Southern Region, shared stewardship and strong coalitions between private and public stakeholders are helping us achieve land management goals while meeting local and rural community needs, and providing a continuing source of local income and employment for rural communities. 


  • Keeping Forests

    Keeping Forests Logo

    Keeping Forests is a 13-state southern forest conservation initiative. The group is supported by a diverse coalition of both private and public stakeholders ranging from human health professionals to traditional forest products manufacturers and conservationists.

  • America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative

    Longleaf Restoration Initiative logo

    The America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative is a collaborative effort of multiple public and private sector partners that actively supports range-wide efforts to restore and conserve longleaf pine ecosystems.

  • Shortleaf Pine Initiative

    shortleaf pine logo

    Launched in the spring of 2013, the Shortleaf Pine Initiative is a collaborative, strategic and energetic response to the dramatic decline of shortleaf pine forests and associated habitats that once covered a vast area from eastern Texas to Florida and up the eastern seaboard to New Jersey.

Southern Regional Leadership Team

  • Regional Forester: Ken Arney

    Ken Arney 5x7

    Ken Arney is the Regional Forester for the Southern Region of the USDA Forest Service. As Regional Forester, he oversees National Forest System lands that encompass 13.3 million acres across the 13 southern states and Puerto Rico. During his tenure with the Southern Region, he has advanced many public and private partnerships to tackle forestry challenges facing the southeast region.

  • Deputy Regional Forester for Natural Resources: Rick Lint

    A placeholder image

    Rick Lint is the Deputy Regional Forester for Natural Resources in the Southern Region of the US Forest Service. The Deputy Regional Forester for Natural Resources is responsible for the Biological and Physical Resources; Forest Management; Resource Information Management; Planning; and Office of Communication units.

  • Deputy Regional Forester for State, Private, and Tribal Forestry: Ed Hunter

    A placeholder image

    Edward "Ed"  Hunter is the Deputy Regional Forester for State, Private and Tribal Forestry. The Deputy Regional Forester for State, Private and Tribal Forestry, is responsible for the Fire and Aviation, Forest Health, and Cooperative Forestry units.

  • Deputy Regional Forester for Operations: Sherry Reaves

    A placeholder image

    Sherry Reaves is the Deputy Regional Forester for Operations. The Deputy Regional Forester for Operations, is responsible for the Budget and Financial Management; Engineering; Recreation, Heritage, Wilderness and Volunteer Services; Operations Administrative Support; Acquisitions Management; and Safety and Health units.