The laws that established the agency and control its actions are: The Forest Reserve Act of 1891. The Organic Administrative Act of 1897; the Transfer Act of 1905 which transferred the forest reserves from the Interior Department to the Agriculture Dept and changed the Bureau of Forestry into the Forest Service; the Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act, P.L. 86-517; the National Forest Management Act, P.L. 94-588; the National Environmental Policy Act, P.L. 91-190; the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act, P.L. 95-313; and the Forest and Rangelands Renewable Resources Planning Act, P.L. 95-307.
Across the United States, there are 155 National Forests, organized into ranger districts. The districts construct and maintain trails, operate campgrounds, regulate grazing, patrol wilderness areas, and manage vegetation and wildlife habitat .
The Forest Service also has Regional Research Stations that study the ecosystems of the National Forests among other things. The Forest Service also provides funding and technical assistance to non-federal land owners through a branch called State and Private Forestry.
Although many boardfeet of timber are logged every year, not all National Forests are forested. There are tidewater glaciers in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska and ski areas such as Alta, Utah in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
In order to help prevent forrest fires, the Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council started to release fire education posters featuring a Black Bear on August 9, 1944. The poster campaign was a success and the Black Bear would later be named "Smokey the Bear" who for decades was the "spokesbear" for the Forrest Service.
See also List of U.S. National Forests.