Youth Organizations on National Forests

National forests provide close-to-home recreation opportunities for millions of Americans. They are sometimes the easiest places to experience nature if you live in a nearby city.

However, they are not always the most accessible. The Wilderness Society is working with people on the ground and in government to ensure that America’s youth gets to experience our forests despite the challenges.

The youth access problem

Unfortunately, organizations that provide outdoor experiences to youth and urban populations are often unable to use the national forests. Forest Service rules for group activities require organizations that take groups to a forest to obtain a "Special Use" permit if they charge participants a fee or compensate group leaders.

Getting a special use permit takes a lot of effort, and no new permits are available in some national forests. As a result, some forests are closed to organizations that do not already have permits. 

See also:

National forest FAQs
How we work on national forests

What we are doing

The Wilderness Society believes organizations that provide outdoor experiences to youth and underserved communities provide a valuable public service and should be able to visit our national forests.

We are working with partners and organizing youth service providers into a coalition to urge the US Forest Service to make forests more accessible for youth programs.

The issue is complex, but making progress is vital to the health and well-being of the next generation of Americans, and to the protection of America's wild places.

See also:

Youth recreation partnerships

Helpful links

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