The western United States contains thirteen states that have a combined total of 84 regions designated as US National Forests. All forests are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Yellowstone Park Timber and Land Reserve was the first to be established as a National Forest in 1891.
National Forests in the Western United States
The U.S. state of Alaska has the most National Forest coverage in the country, with about 21.9 million acres. California has the second most, with about 20.8 million acres, and Idaho ranks a close third, with approximately 20.4 million acres of National Forests. In terms of the percentage of a state’s land covered by National Forests, Idaho ranks first, followed by Oregon and Colorado, with 38.2%, 24.7%, and 20.9% coverage, respectively.
Despite the total area of National Forests in Alaska, the state only contains two forests. However, both forests, Tongass National Forest and Chugach National Forest, are large in size. Tongass is the biggest National Forest in the United States, with an area of about 16,748,360 acres, while Chugach is third largest in the country, with an area 5,419,095 acres.
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in California covers an area of 6,290,945 acres and is the second largest National Forest in the United States. However, Alaska's Tongass is nearly three times as large. Salmon-Challis National Forest (4,226,973 acres) in Idaho is the fourth largest, while Bridger-Teton National Forest (3,383,302 acres) in Wyoming is the fifth largest National Forest. Based on these figures, it is clear that the western side of the United States has larger National Forests than the eastern side of the country.
The state of California has the highest number of National Forests in the western United States. California has a total of 20 National Forests, followed by Idaho, with a total of 13 forests. Oregon and Colorado each have 12 forests. South Dakota and Montana have the fewest number of National Forests in the western United States, with one forest each.
In total, the United States has 154 protected zones that have been categorized as National Forests. The western side has more than half of these forests (84), while the remainder are located in the east. With the exception of ten states, every state in the US has at least one National Forest.