by Anna Fletcher
As the lead federal agency in natural resource conservation, the U.S. Forest Service manages the 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, providing us with the best spots to hike, camp, hammock and relax. They also deal with an eclectic bunch of backpackers, campers and visitors on a daily basis.
These are actual remarks written on US Forest Service registration sheets and comment cards by backpackers returning from wilderness trips:
- “Trails need to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.”
- “Need more signs to keep area pristine.”
- “A McDonald’s would be nice at the trail head.”
- “Too many bugs and leeches and spiders and spider webs. Please spray the wilderness to rid the area of these pests.”
- “The places where trails do not exist are not well marked.”
- “Ban walking sticks in wilderness. Hikers that use walking sticks are more likely to chase animals.”
- “The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.”
- “Reflectors need to be placed on trees every 50 feet so people can hike at night with flashlights.”
- “A small deer came into my camp and stole my bag of pickles. Is there a way I can get reimbursed?”
- “Trails need to be wider so people can walk while holding hands.”
- “Too many rocks in the mountains.”
- “Instead of a permit system or regulations, the Forest Service needs to reduce worldwide population growth to limit the number of visitors to wilderness.”
- “Please pave the trails so they can be plowed of snow in the winter.”
About the U.S. Forest Service
In 1876, the U.S. Forest Service got its start as The Office of Special Agent for forest research, created by the US Department of Agriculture to evaluate the condition of US forests. President Theodore Roosevelt, an early advocate of scientific forestry and conservation efforts, helped spur this effort of forest management. After a few name changes (such as Division of Forestry in 1881 and the Bureau of Forestry in 1901), the Transfer Act of 1905 formally established the agency as the U.S. Forest Service.
Declaring the motto “Caring for the land and serving people”, it provides the leadership needed to protect, maintain and determine the use of the nation’s lands – from forests and deserts to wetlands and marine/freshwater ecosystems. The Forest Service ensures the sustainability of our ecosystems, lands and resources by enforcing management plans to restore and maintain species diversity and ecological productivity; thus providing natural value to residents and visitors.