Less than 100 years after Lewis and Clark described natural resources in The West as virtually limitless, Congress created the first Forest Reserves in 1891 to restore and conserve our nation's forests and watersheds. In succeeding years, more National Forests were established in the west and east, followed by National Grasslands in the prairies. Today, there are 191 million acres in 155 National Forests and almost four million acres in 20 National Grasslands in 44 states and Puerto Rico.
The hardwood forests of the East coast had been familiar to European settlers for over 200 years in 1803.
Appearing to be a sea of grass, the Great Plains is actually a complex ecosystem of hundreds of grass, shrub, and tree species supporting huge herds of grazing animals.
Stretching from Canada to Mexico, the rugged spine of the continent dominates this diverse landscape of forested ranges interspersed with broad grass filled valleys.
Although the incessant rain made for a miserable winter for the Corps of Discovery, they found it nurtured evergreen forests of gigantic trees and one of the richest salmon fisheries in the world.