State foresters celebrate 40 years of Cooperative Forestry

By Zoe Bommarito

Four decades ago this year, Congress passed the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 to help the federal government and state forestry agencies coordinate their efforts to protect, conserve, and enhance America’s forests.

In recognition and celebration of this anniversary, NASF will be highlighting some of the landmark accomplishments made possible by the Act in a weekly blog series starting today.

Why is the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act important? 

By passing the Cooperative Forest Assistance Act, and through various amendments to the law over the years, our lawmakers have ensured that state forestry agencies have the resources they need:

To encourage the production of timber and utilization of wood. Today, more than 90% of the country's wood supply is sourced from state and private forests.

To prevent and control wildfire, insects, and disease that harm trees and forests. Forest threats like wildfire, insects, and disease spread across all ownerships and boundaries. Through Cooperative Forestry programs, state forestry agencies are empowered with the resources needed to effectively curb and manage these threats, ensuring the health of all America's forests.

To improve and maintain fish and wildlife habitat. State and private forests provide critical habitat for tens of thousands of wildlife species, including many that are threatened or endangered. Coordinated efforts between federal agencies and the states are crucial to maintaining and enhancing wildlife habitat nationwide.

To plan and conduct urban forestry programs. Trees are a part of community green infrastructure and provide environmental, social, and economic benefits to all Americans.

To provide technical forest management assistance to private landowners. Equipped with place-based, scientifically proven methods for forest management, private landowners can keep their forests as forests.

What are State and Private Forestry programs?

The Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act authorizes a host of State and Private Forestry programs (administered by the USDA Forest Service) that are crucial to the sustainable management of our nation’s forests:

  • Urban and Community Forestry Program
  • Forest Stewardship Program
  • Forest Legacy Program
  • Landscape Scale Restoration Program
  • State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Fire Assistance Programs
  • Forest Health Management Program on Cooperative Lands
  • Forest Inventory and Analysis Program

The success of State and Private Forestry programs hinges on state Forest Action Plans. Each state and territory's Forest Action Plan provides information for prioritizing action on national forestry challenges. Collectively, these plans represent the first-ever strategic plan for the nation's forests. Federal agencies like the USDA Forest Service are able to make the most informed, cost-effective management decisions possible on federal forests when they coordinate with states by integrating these Forest Action Plans into their work and planning.

How does cooperative forestry help communities?

With on-the-ground direction from state forestry agencies, State and Private Forestry programs help communities and individuals across the country sustainably manage their trees and forests. When managed appropriately, state, municipal, and privately owned forests and trees provide a multitude of public benefits, from improving air quality to providing clean water; to protecting ecosystems and wildlife to generating tremendous economic growth.

Join us on our blog in the following weeks to learn more about these programs and their impact on your community.

Zoe Bommarito is NASF's 2018 Winter and Spring James Hubbard Intern for Policy and Communications. She can be reached by email at

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