Without national forests, the United States would look drastically different. The U.S. National Forest Week celebrates the importance of forests and grasslands from July 13th – July 19th, 2020. Only in its second year, National Forest Week’s theme is “Discover Unforgettable Experiences.” As adventurers, forests provide us with unlimited opportunities to explore the outdoors and return home with “unforgettable experiences.”
Without national forests, backpackers wouldn’t have the Appalachian Trail. Mountain bikers wouldn’t be able to rip through the Colorado Trail. There’d be fewer places to hike, if at all, and what would we do without the 14’er peak-bagging we so fondly look forward to during the summer?
National Forests are important because they help us escape. Especially now, those of us who live close enough to a National Forest can responsibly recreate outdoors and away from crowds, while social distancing. It’s a privilege to be able to explore forests in our neck of the woods and throughout the United States.
There are more than 9,000 miles of scenic byways to drive
Almost 150,000 miles of trails to hike
More than 4,400 miles of wild and scenic rivers to float
At least 5,100 campgrounds in which to pitch our tents
And 328 natural pools to swim in
Organizations like the National Forest Foundation seek to protect, restore, and enhance these forests and grasslands so future generations can enjoy what Nature has to offer.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, there are 148 million national forest visits every year. That’s about half of the US population. Further, there are about 7.6 million outdoor recreation jobs. The majority of activities are camping, fishing, hunting, motorcycling, off-roading, snow sports, trail sports, water sports, and wheel sports. You probably enjoy one or several of these activities in the outdoors.
Forests are critical to our survival. From the air we breathe to the wood we use to providing habitats for nearly half of the Earth’s known species and livelihoods for humans, we need forests. There are a multitude of reasons why forests are important.
How to Celebrate National Forests Week
You likely have a favorite forest activity. Here are some more ideas provided by the National Forest Foundation:
Take a walk in the woods nearby and get to know your forest