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Federal Government/Horses
First Posted: Sept 2006
Oct 14, 2013

U.S. Department of Agriculture (The Forest Service) vs. U.S. Department of Interior (National Park Service)

by Debora Johnson

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between The Forest Service and the National Park Service? Have you ever wondered why some of our land comes under the umbrella of the U S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service and some under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Interior's National Park Service? I have. The following explanation has been taken from the web sites of each respective agency. A complete explanation of both Services will give an understanding of our United States Government at work!

National Park Service

Mission Statement

The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country.

Created by Congress on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service preserves, unimpaired, the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The National Park System of the United States comprises 388 areas covering more than 84.4 mission acres in 49 States, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. These areas are of such national significance as to justify special recognition and protection in accordance with various acts of Congress. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

National Park Service Programs:

Beyond managing the national park system, the National Park Service administers a broad range of programs that serve the conservation and recreation needs of the nation and the world. Examples include the:

National Register of Historic Places
National Historic Landmarks Program
National Natural Landmarks Program
Land and Water Conservation Grants Program
Historic American Building Survey
Historic American Engineering Record
American Battlefield Protection Program
National Maritime Heritage Grants Program
Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program
Tribal Heritage Preservation Grants Program

Although these programs operate outside the national parks, they form a vital part of the National Park mission.

U.S. Forest Service (USFS)

Established in 1905, the Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Forest Service manages public lands in national forests and grasslands. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the mission of the Forest Service-"to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run." National forests and grasslands encompass 193 million acres of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas.

When and why was the Forest Service established? Congress established the Forest Service in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the Nation's benefit. Over the years, the public has expanded the list of what they want from national forests and grasslands. Congress responded by directing the Forest Service to manage national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. Multiple uses mean managing resources under the best combination of uses to benefit the American people while ensuring the productivity of the land and protecting the quality of the environment.

National forests are America's great outdoors. They encompass 191 million acres (77.3 million hectares) of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas. National forests provide opportunities for recreation in open spaces and natural environments. With more and more people living in urban areas, national forests are becoming more important and valuable to Americans. People enjoy a wide variety of activities in national forests, including backpacking in remote, unroaded wilderness areas, mastering an all-terrain vehicle over a challenging trail, enjoying the views along a scenic byway, or fishing in a great trout stream, to mention just a few.

What does the Forest Service do?

The job of Forest Service managers is to help people share and enjoy the forest, while conserving the environment for generations yet to come. Some activities are compatible. Some are not. You, as a concerned citizen, pay a key role. By expressing your views to Forest Service managers, you will help them balance all of these uses and make decisions in the best interest of the forest and the public.

The Forest Service motto, "Caring for the Land and Serving People," captures the spirit of our mission, which we accomplish through five main activities:

  • Protection and management of natural resources on National Forest System lands.
  • Research on all aspects of forestry, rangeland management, and forest utilization.
  • Community assistance and cooperation with State and local governments Forest industries, and private landowners to help protect and manage non-Federal forest and associated range and watershed lands to improve conditions in rural areas.
  • Achieving and supporting an effective workforce that reflects the full range of diversity of the American people.
  • International assistance in formulating policy and coordinating U.S. support for the protections and sound management of the world's forest resources.

This synopsis of the two agencies should make clear the differences. Both are important to the equestrian. Specifically mentioned the National Park Service programs include the American Battlefield Protection Program. As horseback riders it is imperative that we unite to make sure that our horse use privilege is preserved. It is equally important that we continue to respect and support the hallowed land upon which we ride.


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