The Forest Service was created nearly 100 years ago to conserve our Nation's forests. Today's public forests and grasslands provide sustainable supplies of water, quality recreation areas, energy and minerals, healthy fish and wildlife habitats, timber, and many other products and values. The Forest Service mission represented by the phase, "Caring for the Land and Serving People," reflects our commitment to working in collaboration with others to sustain the health, biological diversity and productivity of the Nation's lands and water.
Our first priority is to protect and restore the health of the land. Failing this, nothing else we do would really matter in the long run. Assuring healthy forest, range, and aquatic ecosystems begins and ends by working with people and by learning to live within the limits of the land. I call this commitment to healthy ecosystems and working with people on the land "collaborative stewardship."
In practicing collaborative stewardship, we will be guided by our long-term strategic plan. Our overarching goal is to ensure sustainable resource management. This goal is based on the recognition that the health of the environment and the economic and social health of human communities are inextricably linked. Our strategic plan describes long-term goals and policy and program guidance that supports our commitment to sustainable resource management.
Our strategic plans, budgets, and priorities must focus on the health of the land. This is our report on what we accomplished in fiscal year 1996. Beginning this year, I have identified the following as priorities for the agency: improving water quality and quantity, protecting and restoring riparian areas, protecting and restoring forest and rangeland ecosystems, increasing partnerships, and promoting environmentally responsible recreation. Our ability to meet these priorities will depend on how well we work with the people who use and care about the land while serving their changing needs. The most important measure of our stewardship is the condition of the land and resources.
As the new Chief of the Forest Service, I look forward to building on past successes and renewing our commitment to ensuring the health, diversity, and productivity of our natural resources for the present and future generations.
USDA Forest Service
The Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, provides leadership in the management, protection, and use of the Nation's forests and rangelands. The agency takes an ecological approach to the implementation of multiple use management, providing sustained yields of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. The Forest Service has embraced ecosystem management as its operating philosophy and is committed to the preservation of wilderness, biodiversity, and landscape beauty as well as the protection of the basic resources of soil, water, and air quality.
The Forest Service is responsible for the 191.6-million-acre National Forest System, with its 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in 44 States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In addition, the agency works with State land management organizations to help private landowners apply good natural resource management practices on their lands. The International Forestry program of the Forest Service enables the agency to share its technical expertise and managerial skills with other nations. The Research program of the Forest Service conducts extensive research to enhance and protect productivity on all of America's forests and rangelands, with special attention to long-term natural resource issues of national and international scope.
Key laws guiding Forest Service programs and activities are:
® Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960.
® Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) of 1974, as amended.
® National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976.
® Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1978, as amended.
® Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978.
® Chief Financial Officer's Act of 1990.
® Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (Farm Bill).
® International Forestry Cooperation Act of 1990.
® Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs and marital or familial status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs.) Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at 202-720-2600 (voice and TDD).
To file a complaint, write the Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC 20250, or call 800-245-6340 (voice) or 202-720-1127 (TDD). USDA is an equal employment opportunity employer.