Forest Action Plans Are Helping Protect Woods in Your State

Photography by Joel Prince courtesy NASF

by Nicole Leinders

As a woodland owner you are aware of the devastation your trees face from invasives, disease, and unplanned fire, among other threats. Eighty-one million acres of forests in the United States are at risk of devastation by insects and diseases. No woodland owner is safe from the threat of natural disasters, and connecting the next generation to your land is a struggle for many landowners.

That’s why state forestry agencies across the nation work year round to help you protect your land. These agencies are the primary source of forest management advice for family forest owners like you, and they provide technical assistance to nearly 200,000 landowners annually.

Established in 1920, the National Association of State Foresters (NASF) is comprised of the directors of forestry agencies—known as State Foresters. State Foresters oversee and manage the forestry department or division in each state and deliver a number of programs aimed at assisting private landowners in managing their woods. Your state forestry agency offers assistance by hosting local woodland owner workshops, marketing opportunities for your wood products, Arbor Day plantings and urban forestry activities, and much more.

Your state forestry agency offers professional assistance and can answer technical questions. Connect with your State Forester for access to tools and services about timber marketing, insects and disease, seedling purchase, implementation of Forest Stewardship Plans and participation in cost-share assistance programs.

Combating Forest Pests

According to NASF’s latest state forestry agency survey, pest infestation, disease outbreak, and invasive species are among the top high-impact issues facing state agencies today, especially in the Northeast and Midwest.

State agencies are responsible for surveys, evaluations, and assessments of public and private forests across the state. They do everything they can to keep your woodlands healthy while also offering the tools and advice that every landowner should utilize when monitoring and managing their trees and forests.

Connecticut State Forester Chris Martin, chair of the NASF Forest Science and Health Committee, knows how powerful partnerships are between state agencies and woodland owners to combat the issues of forest pests and diseases.

“Private woodland owners hold more than 60% of our Country’s forest land.  They are not only our eyes and ears when it comes to what’s happening in their forests, but they are our missionaries as well; spreading the word with neighbors about what to watch for and how to prevent it when possible,” said Martin.

Forest Action Plans: A Solution to Limited Resources and Growing Threats

In an effort to tackle the most pressing threats to forest health, every state developed a five-year Forest Action Plan in 2010. Now in their fifth anniversary, Forest Action Plans are being reviewed by each State Forester to ensure continued alignment with the changing ecosystem in your state.

Forest Action Plans stemmed from the 2008 Farm Bill, when Congress tasked the states and territories with crafting assessments of state and private lands and developing strategies to address threats and improve forest health. Collectively, these assessments represent the first-ever strategic plan for America’s state and private forests and offer a powerful way to target limited resources in your state.

Each Forest Action Plan is unique to its state and reflects public input, local expertise and the best available data on forest conditions. The result of five years of these strategies has been healthier and more resilient landscapes, better and more fire-adapted communities, improved habitat, air, and water quality, and a host of other public benefits that you know are derived from sustainably managed woodlands.

Most of America’s forests are owned by families—landowners just like you—and Forest Action Plans offer solutions to help achieve national forestry goals. To learn more about your state’s Forest Action Plan, visit

You can connect with the landowner programs offered through your state’s forest agency at

Nicole Leinders is the National Association of State Foresters’ Foundation intern.