The mission of the USDA Forest Service 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 and grasslands, the USFS is also among the largest forestry research organizations in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Some of the USFS programs that relate to the 2006-2010 NPS Management Program Update are listed below.
The Ouachita National Forest covers 1.8 million acres in central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. The Ouachita National Forest includes land in three priority watersheds for the 2006-2010 NPS Management Program, including the Poteau River watershed, the Upper Saline River watershed and the Lower Little River watershed.
The Ozark-St. Francis National Forest is actually two distinct forests. The Ozark National Forest covers 1.2 million acres, mostly in the Ozark Mountains of northern Arkansas. A small section of the forest is in the Upper White River watershed, which is a 2006-2010 NPS Management Program priority watershed. The St. Francis National Forest covers 22,600 acres in eastern Arkansas, one of the smallest and most diverse forests in the country.
- Forest Planning. Each forest in the National Forest System operates under a Forest Plan. The Amended Forest Plan for the Ouachita National Forest was signed in March 1990. The current plan for the Ozark-St. Francis National Forests was signed in July 1986. Both of Arkansas’ national forests are in the process of developing new plans that will provide direction for the next 10-15 years. In its capacity as lead silviculture agency for the 2006-2010 NPS Management Program, the Arkansas Forestry Commission (AFC) will participate in these planning processes to encourage federal consistency. In addition, local watershed groups will also participate in these planning processes.
- Forest Service Research and Development (R&D) scientists carry out basic and applied research to study biological, physical, and social sciences related to diverse forests and rangelands. USFS research promotes ecologically sound management of national forest lands as well as private forest lands. Examples of relevant research products include:
- Forest Inventory and Analysis reports on status and trends in forest area and location. The program is managed in cooperation with State and Private Forestry and National Forest System.
- Fish and Water Research enhances understanding of organisms, populations, ecosystems, and ecological processes that is essential for managing forests and rangelands to sustain water quality and biological diversity. This research is crucial to the agency's ability to comply with requirements of key environmental statutes, including the Clean Water Act.
- Ozark-Ouachita Highlands Assessment of Aquatic Conditions provides an inter-disciplinary comparative assessment of 73 watersheds in portions of three states that make up the Ozark-Ouachita Highlands.