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.