Reforestation Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the Reforestation Backlog?

    The Forest Service identified and reported understocked areas in the early 1970’s. Restoring forest cover to these areas was a desirable action to promote timber production goals in support of sustained yield requirements. Congress amended the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 with passage of National Forest Management Act (NFMA) in 1976. Under the Act as amended, the Forest Service was required to identify the amount and location of forested lands that had been cut over, denuded, or otherwise deforested, as well as all lands with stands that were not growing at the best potential rate. In its initial report, the Forest Service reported a backlog in need of reforestation totaling more than 3.1 million acres predominately associated with old brush fields and other areas that had been in an understocked condition for several decades. NFMA required the Forest Service to eliminate this reforestation backlog within 8 years and to annually report its progress toward this goal. During this time, the Forest Service conducted treatments that permitted it to report at the end of fiscal year 1985 that the agency had reduced the backlog to approximately 46,000 acres. The Forest Service further reported it would carry this amount into its current maintenance needs for reforestation. In that same year, the Forest Service reported to Congress lands needing reforestation from ongoing operations totaled 827,109 acres.

  2. Which laws and statutes regulate the reforestation and other silvicultural practices on National Forest System lands?
    1. Organic Administration Act of 1897 (30 Stat. 34, as supplemented and amended; 16 U.S.C. 473-478), that states that the National Forest shall furnish a continuous supply of timber for the use and necessities of citizens of the United States.
    2. Knutson-Vandenberg Act of 1930 (46 Stat. 527, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 576 - 576b), which authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to "…establish forest tree nurseries and do all other things needful in preparation for planting on national forests…" and requires the "purchaser of national forest timber to make deposits of money …to cover the cost …of planting, sowing with tree seeds, cutting, destroying, or otherwise removing undesirable trees or other growth and protecting and improving the future productivity of renewable resources…"
    3. Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act of 1937 (50 Stat. 525, as amended; 7 U.S.C. 1010-1012), that authorizes and directs the Secretary to "…develop a program of land conservation and land utilization, in order thereby to correct maladjustments in land use, and thus assist in controlling soil erosion, reforestation, preserving natural resources…"
    4. Anderson-Mansfield Reforestation and Revegetation Act of 1949 (63 Stat. 762;
      16 U.S.C. 581j-581k), that states "…it is the declared policy of the Congress to accelerate and provide a continuing basis for the needed reforestation and revegetation of national forest lands and other lands under administration and control of the Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture in order to obtain the benefits hereinbefore enumerated…"
    5. Granger-Thye Act of 1950 (64 Stat. 82, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 490), that authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture "… where the public interest justifies, to cooperate or assist public and private agencies,…in performing work…within or near a national forest for which the administering agency, owner, or other interested party deposits…a sufficient sum to cover the total estimated cost of the work to be done for the benefit of the depositor, for administration, protection, improvement, reforestation, and such other kinds of work the Forest Service is authorized to do on lands of the United States. It also authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture, subject to such conditions as he may prescribe, to sell forest-tree seed and nursery stock…"
    6. Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 (P.L. 86-517, 74 Stat. 215; 16 U.S.C.
      528-531), that authorizes and directs the Secretary of Agriculture "…to develop and administer the renewable surface resources of the national forests for multiple use and sustained yield of the several products and services obtained therefrom…"
    7. Supplemental National Forest Reforestation Fund Act of 1972 (87 Stat. 242, 245, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 576c-576e) that directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a "Supplemental National Forest Reforestation Fund."
    8. Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 (88 Stat. 476, as amended; 16 U.S.C. 1601-1610), that states "it is the policy of the Congress that all forested lands in the National Forest System be maintained in appropriate forest cover with species of trees, degree of stocking, rate of growth, and conditions of stand designed to secure the maximum benefits of multiple use sustained yield management in accordance with land management plans."
    9. National Forest Management Act of 1976 (90 Stat. 2949; 16 U.S.C. 1600 (note)), that states "it is the policy of the Congress that all forested lands in the National Forest System be maintained in appropriate forest cover with species of trees, degree of stocking, rate of growth, and conditions of stand designed to secure the maximum benefits of multiple use sustained yield management in accordance with land management plans." The law also directs the Secretary of Agriculture, "under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, may sell, at not less than appraised value, trees, portions of trees, or forest products located on National Forest System lands."
    10. Reforestation Trust Fund, Title III - Reforestation, Recreation Boating Safety and Facilities Improvement Act of 1980 (16 U.S.C. 1606a, as amended), that establishes "…in the Treasury of the United States a trust fund, to be known as the Reforestation Trust Fund…, consisting of such amounts as are transferred to the Trust Fund under Subsection (b) (1)…"