The USDA Forest Service is a federal agency that manages national forests and grasslands. The agency has an office located in Tallahassee, Florida, and it has regional offices across the country. The forest Service employs approximately 30,000 people, making it one of the largest employers in Florida. The agency’s mission is to “sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” In addition to managing national forests, the Forest Service also conducts research on a variety of topics related to forestry and provides technical assistance to landowners. The agency is also responsible for fighting wildfires on federal land.
The Forest Service manages three national forests in the state: the Apalachicola, Osceola, and Ocala National Forests. These forests cover a total of 3.4 million acres and are home to a diverse array of plant and animal life. Here’s a closer look at each of these national forests:
- The Ocala National Forest is known for its abundant wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, feral hogs, alligators, and many species of birds and reptiles. The forest is also home to a number of rare and endangered plants, such as the scrub jay and the sandhill crane.
- The Osceola National Forest is named after Seminole Chief Osceola. The forest covers nearly 400,000 acres of Florida wilderness and is home to a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, black bears, alligators, and more than 200 species of birds.
- The Apalachicola National Forest is located in the Florida Panhandle and covers more than 567,000 acres. It is named for the Apalachicola River and is home to a diverse array of plants and animals, including the red-cockaded woodpecker.
The agency’s programs focus on conservation, recreation, and research. Through these programs, the Forest Service works to protect and improve the natural resources of the Tallahassee area.
There are many ways to participate in the USDA Forest Service in Florida. One way is to become a volunteer. Volunteers can help with a variety of tasks, from invasive species removal to trail maintenance. Another way to participate is to join a Citizen’s Advisory Committee. These committees provide input on various issues affecting the forest service, such as recreation and land management. Finally, visitors can also participate by following Leave No Trace principles when enjoying the forests. This includes packing out trash, respecting wildlife, and being mindful of others. By taking part in any of these activities, anyone can help to ensure that the state’s forests remain healthy and vibrant for future generations.
Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park