Starting in 2022, Raven About The Parks is becoming Raven About The Parks | Raven About The Forests!
So other than adding another cool logo to our website, what does this actually mean? We will now be posting about the 155 National Forests in America that are managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) not the National Park Service (NPS – we just posted on our 300th NPS site in December!). For more information on the history of the USFS check out our newspaper article from November.
As a quick reminder of the differences between the two government agencies:
U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is in the Department of Agriculture and manages 155 National Forests (in 40 states and 1 territory), 20 National Grasslands, 22 National Recreation Areas, 13 National Monuments, and 1 National Historic Site. Hunting is allowed in most National Forests and rules are generally more relaxed about hiking off trail and dispersed camping. The USFS was founded in 1905 on the ideal of conservation, which includes natural resource extraction and logging in a sustainable manner.
National Park Service (NPS) is in the Department of Interior and manages 423 sites (in all 50 states and 5 territories plus Washington, D.C.), which are made up of no National Forests nor Grasslands, 63 National Parks, 20 National Recreation Areas, 82 National Monuments, 82 National Historic Sites, and many other designations. Hunting is not allowed in most NPS units and rules are generally stricter about hiking off trail and dispersed camping. The NPS was founded in 1916 on the ideal of preservation, which does not allow for natural resource extraction or logging.
I feel like my old forestry professor self was coming out there. There will not be a test, though.
When the pandemic shut down most NPS sites, it inspired us to do something we had talked about for years: hiking in all 155 National Forests. We determined that we already had traveled enough to write about 55 National Forests in places we previously lived, including Alaska, Arizona, California, North Carolina, and Wyoming. That left 100 more to go. Of course, that did not stop us from returning to a few favorites along the way, like Black Hills, Bridger, Gila, Medicine Bow, Nebraska, and Roosevelt National Forests.
Over the past 17 months, to complete this monumental task I (being Scott) needed lots of support from both my wife (being Tiff who was still working full time at the local hospital) and my recently-retired mother. Together we drove more than 40,000 miles across 42 states (plus Puerto Rico). We hiked and backpacked well over 700 miles of trails in 117 National Forests, spending 129 nights camping.
Our major objective in visiting all 155 National Forests was to finish research so we can publish a guidebook in 2022. Watch for updates on how that project progresses, but in the meanwhile enjoy learning more about our public lands as we start posting on National Forests (in alphabetical order) and their associated National Monuments and National Recreation Areas. We start next Thursday with Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest.
Thank you for reading. Happy New Year!
Scott and Tiff