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Meet the USFS

This federal agency manages 8.5 percent of the land in the U.S., preserving it for future generations of campers and hikers.

If you enjoy exploring nature, this summer you may find yourself on land owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The USFS manages 8.5 percent of all land in the U.S., or 193 million acres. This is an area roughly the size of Texas.

The forest service is a federal agency under the Department of Agriculture. They’re interested in helping people to share and enjoy the forest while at the same time, preserving it for future generations.

Not all public activities are sustainable. That’s why the Forest Service issues special-use plant collecting and wood cutting permits — the USFS is trying to find the best balance that sustains and saves the forest so that we can enjoy it for generations to come.

Take a look at the properties maintained by the USFS. In the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, USFS properties include three fire lookout rentals and a cabin.

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What you need to know about hiking on forest service lands.

Before you go, be sure to review the 7 leave no trace principles. Here are some other tips to keep you safe out in the woods:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare. Trails are overcrowded, so keep an eye on how popular a trail might be by researching the trail online. Have a “backup trail” ready in case your chosen trail is too crowded.
  2. Prepare water and food. Be sure to pack the 10 essentials.
  3. Try to stick to designated camping sites. If you’re doing dispersed camping, stay away from waterways because of sedimentary runoff.
  4. Dispose of waste. Pack out what you pack in.
  5. Stick to the trails. Leave plant and animal species alone as much as possible.
  6. Minimize impact on fires and practice fire prevention. Beware of the duff. Duff is woody debris that sits under trees, above the dirt. Unlike dirt, it is very flammable and can harbor underground flame.
  7. Respect wildlife.
  8. Be considerate of other visitors.

Public outreach

The Forest Service teaches kids about saving the forests with the Woodsy Owl forest service mascot. The cartoon owl educates kids on conservation and safety by imparting his slogan “Lend a hand, care for the land”.

The USFS reaches out to underserved communities, often times catering their curriculum to urban audiences. Through one program they offer America the Beautiful Passes to fourth graders for free. These passes have an $80 value and give access to parks all over the nation.

The Forest Service also leads groups on winter ecology interpretive snowshoe hikes among other educational outdoor excursions.

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About the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

This wooded gem of the Pacific Northwest is one of the most-visited national forest places in the United States. The area is comprised of 2 million acres on the west side of the Cascades, a corridor of land reaching from the Canadian border in the north to Mt. Rainier at the south.

The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is comprised of nine wilderness areas, four ski areas, 1500 miles of trails, over 40 camping locations, and 24 picnic sites. It’s a place that can be explored in perpetuity.

Even though these recreational assets are spread out, foot traffic land use must be regulated to help to mitigate human impact.

Get an America the Beautiful Pass here.
Get official USFS maps here.
Rent USFS properties here.

Smokey Bear

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Smokey Bear was born on August 9, 1944, when the USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council agreed that a fictional bear named Smokey would be their symbol for forest fire prevention.

Smokey the cartoon was based on an actual bear from New Mexico who climbed a tree to avoid a forest fire.

His name is actually Smokey Bear but most people call him Smokey the Bear because of a popular jingle that accompanied some of his public service ads.

The Smokey Bear Fire Safety Campaign is the longest-running public service ad campaign in American history.

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Managing Editor
Richard Porter