Partnership Resource Center
The Forest Service works to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. Our partners include land management agencies across all levels of government, nonprofit and for-profit entities, and communities. Since the agency’s founding in 1905, partnerships have made significant contributions to our nation’s natural resource management. Explore this site to learn more.
Partnering with the Forest Service
Resources on how and where to obtain funding, like grants, from federal sources.
Some partnerships have formal arrangements that involve legal documents or administrative tasks.
Contacts within the Forest Service as well as our congressionally-chartered nonprofit partners.
Learn more about successful Forest Service partnerships get inspired to work with us!
Programs and Partnering Opportunities
Secure Rural Schools
The Secure Rural Schools program provides critical funding for schools, roads, and other municipal services to more than 700 counties across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The Forest Service was established in 1905 with 56 million acres of land. By 1910, the amount of National Forest System land tripled to 172 million acres. Today, the agency manages approximately 196 million acres. Congress ratified the Act of May 23, 1908, as a measure to support rural counties whose tax base was limited by the growing amount of Federal land. A portion of Forest Service funds generated through multi-use activities, such as grazing, timber production, and special use permits, are distributed to eligible counties to help maintain local roads and schools.
By the year 2000, after decades of declining agency revenues, Congress passed the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act to help stabilize the funds available to rural counties.
Payments are divided into three distinct categories, or Titles: Title I for roads and schools, Title II for projects on Federal lands, and Title III for county projects.
Partnerships on Every Forest
The Partnerships on Every Forest (PEF) Program exists to facilitate agency-wide partnership structure, coordination, and capacity-building. By working closely with partnership practitioners in every region, the PEF team keeps an active handle on partnership trends, challenges, and opportunities, and acts quickly to provide support. The team’s work consists primarily of network building and management, resource and training development, and direct consultation with units. PEF’s goal is to break down barriers and aid partnership practitioners such that all interested units can fully utilize partnership.
The Conservation Finance (CF) Program leads the way in positioning the agency to leverage sources of capital beyond USFS appropriations for priority projects. We bring innovative funding and financing approaches to bear on the agency’s biggest challenges, including forest restoration to mitigate wildfire risk and deferred maintenance on recreation infrastructure. The program focuses on supporting developing finance models with potential for replicability, building USFS and partner expertise in innovative finance, and creating an operating space that positions USFS and partners to finance landscape-scale projects. Along with the US Endowment for Forestry & Communities and National Forest Foundation the CF Program manages the Innovative Finance for National Forests grant program, which provides financial support and technical assistance to USFS partners developing and implementing partnership models that leverage external capital to contribute to National Forest System resilience.
Shared Stewardship is a collaborative approach to land management that builds on a long history of cooperation and partnership. It places renewed emphasis on working together with states, tribes, and other partners to establish joint priorities that address cross boundary challenges and opportunities. It leverages new decision support tools to develop strategies across jurisdictions that make impacts at a landscape scale.
Urgent land management challenges like extreme wildfires, severe drought and invasive species do not recognize borders or boundary lines. Through Shared Stewardship, the Forest Service is coming together with tribal governments, states, and other partners to address these challenges and explore opportunities to improve forest health and resiliency across management jurisdictions. This collaborative approach to land management builds on a long history of partnerships to manage the nation's forests and grasslands.