The National Forest System was created by the Land Revision Act of 1891, which was signed under the presidency of Benjamin Harrison. It was the result of concerted action by Los Angeles-area businessmen and property owners who were concerned by the harm being done to the watershed of the San Gabriel Mountains by ranchers and miners. Abbot Kinney and forester Theodore Lukens were key spokesmen for the effort.
In the United States there are 155 National Forests containing almost 190 million acres (297,000 mi²/769 000 km²) of land. These lands comprise 8.5 percent of the total land area of the United States, an area about the size of Texas. Some 87 percent of National Forest land lies west of the Mississippi River in the mountain ranges of the Western United States. Alaska has 12 percent of all National Forest lands.
There are two distinctly different types of forests within the National Forest system.
Land management of these areas focuses on conservation, timber harvesting, livestock grazing, watershed protection, wildlife, and recreation. Unlike national parks and other federal lands managed by the National Park Service, extraction of natural resources from national forests is permitted, and in many cases encouraged. National Forests are categorized by the U.S. as IUCN Category VI protected areas (Managed Resource Protected Area). However, the first-designated wilderness areas, and some of the largest, are on National Forest lands.