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Heritage Program Goals


Improving the Heritage Program


The National Trust for Historic Preservation made public its recent assessment of the Forest Service Heritage Program at a May 15 news conference.  At the conference Deputy Chief Holtrop talked about the Forest Service Heritage Program and outlined steps the Forest Service is taking to address the Trust’s recommendations for improving protection of cultural and heritage resources on national forests and grasslands. The Forest Service is committed to protecting the cultural resources on the national forests and grasslands and making them accessible for the public to appreciate and enjoy.  Holtrop commended the Trust for its constructive recommendations and said the Forest Service is looking forward to working with the Trust and others to protect and enhance the public’s enjoyment of the many cultural resources in our care.  Read Holtrop’s statement.(pdf)

The National Trust for Historic Preservation published its findings from a recent review of the Forest Service Heritage Program in a report titled “The National Forest System:  Cultural Resources at Risk – An Assessment and Needs Analysis”.  The Trust  news release and report can be viewed at the Trust’s Web site.


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"It's About Time"


Waiting silently in the mountains, canyons, and river valleys of our national forests and grasslands are the remnants of past cultures that confront us and remind us of the centuries-old relationship between people and the land. These heritage resources hold clues to past ecosystems, add richness and depth to our landscapes, provide links to living traditions, and help transform a beautiful walk in the woods into an unforgettable encounter with history. - National Heritage Strategy

Purpose of the Heritage Program:

To protect significant heritage resources, to share their values with the American people, and to contribute relevant information and perspectives to natural resource management. In so doing we will:

  • ensure that future generations will have an opportunity to discover the human story etched on the landscapes of our national forests and grasslands;

  • make the past come alive as a vibrant part of our recreational experiences and community life; and

  • connect people to the land in a way that will help us better understand and manage forest ecosystems.

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Opportunities to Become Involved ---
Passport in Time
Passport in Time, also known as “PIT”, is a volunteer program, inviting the public to share in the thrill of discovery through archaeological and historic research. Heritage Expeditions are educational tours and programs about historic and prehistoric sites on national forests.


Stewardship ---
Thief Protecting Heritage Sites. The past belongs to all Americans. When looters and vandals destroy archaeological and historic sites, part of the Nation's heritage is lost forever. Sites on public lands are protected by the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and other statutes.

Be a Steward of the Past:

  • Treat remains of past cultures with respect.
  • Tread lightly when visiting heritage sites.
  • Leave artifacts where you find them.
  • Photograph and enjoy rock art, but do not touch fragile surfaces.
  • Help preserve the past by volunteering your time and talents.


National Register of Historic Places ---
Listing on the National Register of Historic Places recognizes a heritage site's special significance. Historic Building


Heritage Program Management on National Forests and Grasslands

The Forest Service is responsible for the management of over 350,000 recorded cultural resources on national forests and grasslands.  That responsibility includes developing sites for public use, enjoyment, and education as well as protecting sites from vandalism, theft, and effects of federally authorized activities such as timber harvest and road development. 


The Forest Service Manual (FSM) 2360 provides direction to agency officials responsible for compliance with federal historic preservation laws and regulations.  FSM 2360 was most recently updated on July 25, 2008 to address laws and regulations passed since the last revision, including Executive Order 13287 – Preserve America, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act.  It reflects increased emphasis on a variety of issues including coordination with Indian tribes, public programs that foster cultural resource stewardship, and use of historic properties.


Go to www.fs.fed.us/im/directives to view FSM 2360 – Heritage Program Management.


US Forest Service
Last modified March 28, 2013

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