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Recreational Developments on National Forest System Lands

James P. Perry, Ellen R. Hornstein, Public Land Law II (1997)

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of current legal issues associated with recreational use on the national forests. The discussion is not exhaustive in terms of the number of topics addressed or the level of analysis of each topic.

The Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages the National Forest System, which contains 191.6 million acres spread over 155 national forests and 20 grasslands in 44 States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.1 The Forest Service provides more outdoor recreation opportunities than any other agency, system, or organization in the United States.2 Recreational activities in the National Forest System drew over 850 million visits in 1996.3 Examples of these activities include backpacking, camping, hiking, picnicking, swimming, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, driving for pleasure, photography, wilderness use, and boating.