As much as the natural environment contained

in the forests, the built environment influences:

• The visitor experience.

• The identity of the Forest Service as a

high-quality provider of outdoor recreation.

• Impressions about how the Forest Service

is fulfilling its mission of stewardship.


The guide aims to ensure thoughtful design

and management of this built environment.


The public’s image of the Forest Service’s built

environment is largely a historical one: We are

the agency that built many of the beautifully

handcrafted and sensitively designed rustic

structures of the Civilian Conservation Corps

(CCC) era. In many ways, this tradition has

endured. The Forest Service built environment

has continued to show respect for the

spectacular scenery and landscape settings.

Facilities continue to be designed to conserve

natural resources.


However, in recent years, our recreational and

organizational demands have soared. Budgets

have not kept pace. Efforts to stretch funds

have resulted in short-term fixes, including the

use of less expensive but also less durable and

less aesthetic building materials. Inconsistent

signs and architectural styles have undermined

our agency’s identity. In addition, a larger group

of people influences design beyond the Forest

Service personnel: joint-venture partners,

permittees, and consulting architects and

engineers. This group may not always be aware

of the Forest Service’s tradition of design in

harmony with our spectacular settings.

In some cases, these pressures have spawned

inappropriate designs. The result is too many

facilities that do not fit their natural settings;

are poorly constructed and, therefore, costly

to maintain; fail to meet customer and

employee needs; and generally reflect poorly

on the agency.


This guide does not replace or compete with

professional training or functional manual

direction. Rather, it focuses on the image,

appearance, or architectural character of our

facilities. It provides consistent examples,

measures, and standards that allow everyone

involved during the life of a project to grasp

the importance of providing quality facilities.




Chapter 1 Table of Contents

Reader’s Guide