Responsible for managing more than 190 million acres of national forests and grasslands, the USDA Forest Service is the largest agency of the US Department of Agriculture and has the conflicting mission of both preserving public forest lands and overseeing the commercial harvesting of its timber. The National Forest System consists of 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Through various programs, the agency, which began in 1905, provides states and private landowners with technical and financial assistance to promote rural economic development and improve the natural environment of cities and communities.
USDA Forest Service's Strategic Plan (2007-2012) calls for the restoration and maintenance of the country's forests and grasslands, while providing outdoor recreation opportunities, and increasing forestry awareness in urban locations. It plans to boost the number of acres under stewardship contacts from 57,500 acres in 2006 to 150,000 acres in 2012, and increase the area of reduced fire-risk forest from 830,000 acres and 2 million acres.