The United States has 154 National Forests covering an area of approximately 188.3 million acres. The oldest National Forest, Shoshone, was established in 1891 as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve in the state of Wyoming. Today, all but ten US states have at least one National Forest. These are managed by the US Forest Service. Most of the forests are managed together as either a single forest or individually. Thus, this article focuses on the states with the most forests irrespective of whether the forests are shared or not.
States With The Most National Forests
Although the largest National Forests are in Alaska and Maine has the largest forest cover in the US, California has the highest number of national forests. The state of California has 20 national forests of which 18 forests are entirely in the state while it shares two forests with two other states. The shared national forest is Humboldt-Toiyabe which stretches from Nevada into California and Rogue River-Siskiyou shared with Oregon. Other forests in California include Klamath, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Inyo, Modoc, and Six Rivers among others. The largest national forest in the state is Shasta-Trinity, covering an area of 9,021.6 square kilometers.
Colorado has the third greatest percentage of its land covered by the national forest (20.9%) after Idaho and Oregon. It has 12 national forests of which 10 are entirely in the state. Colorado shares the Manti-La Sal National Forest with Utah. This national forest covers the westernmost parts of Colorado. It also shares the Medicine Bow–Routt National Forest with Wyoming. The largest national forest in Colorado and the most visited forest in the US is the White River National Forest which covers an area of 9,257.2 square kilometers. Other notable national forests in the state include Pike, Grand Mesa, Arapaho, Gunnison, San Isabela, and the Rio Grande.
Oregon has the second-greatest percentage of land covered by the National forest (24%) after Idaho. The state boasts of 12 national forests, sharing only one forest, Klamath, with California. The largest national forest in Oregon is Wallowa-Whitman which stretches from the Blue Mountains to the Snake River and covers an area of approximately 9,159.1 square kilometers. Other notable forests in Oregon include Fremont-Winema, Deschutes, Ochoco, and Willamette.
Idaho has the greatest percentage of land under national forests at 38.2% with approximately 20.4 million acres of land covered by the national forest. There are 11 national forests in Idaho of which four are shared while the other eight are entirely within the state. The shared national forests include Uinta-Wasatch-Cache (Utah and Wyoming), Wallowa-Whitman (Oregon), Kootenai (Montana), and Bitterroot (Montana). Other national forests within the state include Salmon-Challis (largest national forest in Idaho), Boise, Nez Perce, and Idaho Panhandle.
The National Forest Count in the States
Only five states in the US have at least ten national forests with some of the forests shared by one or more states. Of the 41 states with at least one national forest, 28 states have less than five national forests while 13 states have only one national forest. Interestingly, Maine which has 89% of its land area covered by forest, has only one national forest.