Connecting People to Nature

The Forest Service engages in a variety of programs to connect people to nature and to engage the public in fishing and other aquatic-related events and activities. Youth snorkel programs, Tribal Youth Intern programs, a Fish Boot Camp with local schools, and the hosting of more than 300 individual youth fishing events and free fishing days on national forest waters are just some of our examples of how the Fisheries Program in partnership with others develop a stronger natural resource stewardship among the public and an appreciation for the aquatic resources the agency manages.

A photo of Jim Herrig leading a discussion to a group of school children
Jim Herrig, fish biologist for the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee, leading a discussion to a group of school children participating in the Youth Snorkel Program, which immerses children in the biologically rich and crystal clear waters of the forest. This lesson is on the Conasauga River, a stream that boasts more than 60 native fish species. Photo Credit: David Herasimtchuck

A photo of Students collecting fish monitoring data during the “Fish Boot Camp”
Students collect fish monitoring data during the “Fish Boot Camp” sponsored by Sitka Conservation Society, University of Alaska, and the Tongass National Forest’s for local school students, August 2015. Photo Credit: Andrew Thom
A photo of five members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Summer Youth Intern Program receiving recognition.
In partnership with the Southwest Tribal Fisheries Commission, five members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe’s Summer Youth Intern Program received recognition for their natural resource work on the Apache- Sitgreaves National Forest, August 2015. Photo Credit: Stephanie Coleman

A photo of Youth fishing and catching a 50 pound catfish
Youth fishing and free fishing days like this one are popular annual events on more than 300 ranger districts across the country. Photo Credit: Ouachita National Forest

Connecting children to nature and inspiring stewardship of aquatic resources through art.

“Invader Crusader” Award winners recognizing students for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) awareness, knowledge and artistic ability. Also, “Best of Show” art winners of the annual State-Fish Art Contest. Courtesy of Wildlife Forever. Visit for more information.

The Growing Recreational and Restoration Economies

An infographic that shows the amount contributed to annual commercial salmon fishery Thirty-six million people visit national forests and grasslands annually to fish, hunt, or view wildlife. Fishing, hunting and wildlifewatching contributed $7.7 billion to U.S. communities, supporting 150,000 jobs in 2007. Additionally, investing in climate-resilient infrastructure through culvert upgrades and road maintenance can leverage substantial sums of money across multiple agencies while saving millions more in ensuring the economic and social health of communities.*

The American Sportsfishing Association also noted that recreational fishing contributed $2.2. billion and 57,700 jobs annually, while the Tongass and Chugach National Forest watersheds provide an estimated 85 percent of its pink and Coho salmon that support the $1 billion annual commercial salmon fishery in Alaska. 

Watershed investment partnerships among national forests, water supply utilities, and other partners are growing sources of funding for watershed protection and restoration, aquatic organism passage, and wetland restoration to ensure clean drinking water for downstream municipalities and water users, as well as climate resilient transportation and agricultural infrastructure.

*American Sportfishing Association. 2007. State and national economic effects of fishing, hunting, and wildlife-recreation on U.S. Forest Service-managed land. Washington, DC: Produced in partnership with the Forest Service. 60 p.

By The Numbers

Managing recreation in many places is a huge challenge, but also an opportunity to educate the public and contribute to communities through job creation.

  • 36 Million people who visit national forests and grasslands annually to fish, hunt, or view wildlife
  • $7.7 Billion was contributed to U.S. communities in 2007 through fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching
  • 150,000 American jobs supported in 2007 through fishing, hunting, and wildlife-watching
  • $2.2 Billion was amount contributed to U.S. communities annually through recreational fishing
  • 57,000 American jobs supported annually through recreational fishing
A photo of a King Salmon
Chinook salmon caught on the Kenai Peninsula, Chugach National Forest, Alaska. Photo Credit: Karl Malcolm
A photo of two fishermen relaxing on a boat
Recreational fishing below the Custer-Gallatin National Forest in Montana. Photo Credit: Cameron Thomas