United States Forest Service

agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture

The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 154 National Forests. They also manage 20 National Grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres (780,000 km2). Major divisions of the agency include the National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, Business Operations, and the Research and Development branch. Managing approximately 25% of federal lands, it is the only major national land agency that is outside the U.S. Department of Interior.[3]

United States Forest Service
Logo of the U.S. Forest Service
Flag of the U.S. Forest Service
Agency overview
FormedFebruary 1, 1905
Preceding agency
  • Bureau of Forestry
JurisdictionFederal government of the United States
HeadquartersSidney R. Yates Building
1400 Independence Ave SW
Washington, D.C.
Employeesc. 35,000 (FY16)[1]
28,330 Permanent
4,488 Seasonal FY08
Annual budget$5.806 billion (FY08)
Minister responsible
Agency executives
  • Thomas Tidwell, Chief of the United States Forest Service
  • Mary Wagner, Associate Chief
Parent agencyU.S. Department of Agriculture



In 1876, Congress created the office of Special agent in the Department of Agriculture to find out the quality and conditions of forests in the United States. Franklin B. Hough was appointed the head of the office. In 1881, the office was expanded into the newly formed Division of Forestry. The Forest Reserve Act of 1891 authorized withdrawing land from the public domain as "forest reserves," managed by the Department of the Interior. In 1901, the Division of Forestry was renamed the Bureau of Forestry. The Transfer Act of 1905 transferred the management of forest reserves from the General Land Office of the Interior Department to the Bureau of Forestry. It was from that time on known as the United States Forest Service. Gifford Pinchot was the first United States Chief Forester in the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

Significant federal legislation affecting the Forest Service includes the Weeks Act of 1911, the Multiple Use – Sustained Yield Act of 1960, P.L. 86-517; the Wilderness Act, P.L. 88-577; the National Forest Management Act, P.L. 94-588; the National Environmental Policy Act, P.L. 91-190; the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act, P.L. 95-313; and the Forest and Rangelands Renewable Resources Planning Act, P.L. 95-307.

In February 2009, the Government Accountability Office decided whether the Forest Service should be moved from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior, which already includes the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, managing some 438,000,000 acres (1,770,000 km2) of public land.[3]


  1. "Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Overview" (PDF). USFS. p. 2. Retrieved 2015-08-17.
  2. "Office of the Chief". Agency Leadership. US Forest Service.
  3. 3.0 3.1 GAO, "Federal Land Management: Observations on a Possible Move of the Forest Service into the Department of the Interior", February 11, 2009