USDA FOREST SERVICE : Strategic Planning and Resource Assessment

Forest Service at a Glance

Annual Highlights

  • There are 155 national forests and 20 grasslands on the more than 192 million acres that make up the National Forest System, an area the size of America’s original 13 colonies.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service manages 35 million acres of designated wilderness and more than 50 million acres of wild backcountry, including vast tracts of old-growth forest.
  • In 43 States, 3,400 communities with a total population of more than 60 million people obtain at least a portion of their drinking water from watersheds located on national forests and grasslands.
  • More than 1.3 million cattle and approximately 1 million sheep and goats are permitted to graze over 4.8 million tons of forage (grass, forbs, and shrubs) on National Forest System lands.
  • More than 9,800 Forest Service land managers work together to reduce erosion, restore stability, and improve productivity of the soils, resulting in cleaner water, improved fish and wildlife habitat, and enhanced recreational opportunities.
  • Nearly 4 million Americans participate in conservation education programs and activities. This includes 1.5 million students, 90,000 educators, more than 500,000 visitors to national forests and grasslands, and 1.5 million members of the general public.
  • The Forest Service sells about 240,000 Christmas trees, valued at about $1.4 million.
  • More than 46 million anglers fish in national forest waters, making an economic contribution of $8.5 billion to the economy. Some 28 million people hunt on national forest lands, making an economic contribution of $6.1 billion to the economy.
  • On National Forest System lands, 99 percent of unplanned and unwanted wildland fires are controlled during initial attack.
  • On Federal and non-Federal lands, 1.8 million acres of forest and rangeland affected by insects, diseases, and invasive plants are treated.
  • Permits are issued to remove about 400,000 cords of firewood, enabling people to supplement their heating throughout the winter months.
  • Approximately 1.7 billion board feet of timber are harvested, at a value of $165 million.
  • About 75,000 special use permits (lands and recreation use) generate about $46 million to the U.S. Treasury.
  • More than 250,000 acres of habitat are treated or improved for wildlife species annually.
  • More than 912,500 ounces of gold, platinum, and palladium are extracted from national forests and grasslands and used for commercial and hobbyist purposes.
  • On national forests and grasslands, 81.5 million people hike or walk, 46 million fish, 150.7 million view natural features and/or wildlife, 23.4 million camp in developed campgrounds, 28 million hunt, 42.5 million pursue winter sports (downhill, cross-country, or snowmobiling), and 95 million spend time relaxing.