The Kansas Forest Service, successor to the Kansas Commissioner of Forestry Office, is the Nation’s 5th oldest state forestry agency. Created by legislative act in 1887, the Agency celebrated its 129th Anniversary on March 10, 2016. The Agency serves rural landowners, communities, rural fire districts, forest and arboriculture industries, and citizens of the state through its Conservation Tree and Shrub Planting, Fire Management, Community Forestry, Rural Forestry, Marketing and Utilization, and Forest Health programs. The Kansas Forest Service state office is located in Manhattan, KS, just off the campus of Kansas State University. The Agency is administratively attached to the Department of Horticulture and Natural Resources, College of Agriculture, Kansas State University. The Agency receives its direction from a mission statement that reads:
"Care of Natural Resources and Service To People Through Forestry"
The Kansas Forest Service consists of a state office and several district offices. The Agency’s state office facility was constructed in 1968. This facility houses the state forester, program coordinators, statewide specialists, and support staff. The Rural Fire Program Shop was constructed in 1970 to assist with federal excess property for loan to rural fire departments across the state. The Conservation Tree Planting Program Greenhouse was added in 1974. It produces container-grown evergreen seedlings for sale to landowners for conservation plantings. Additionally, the Conservation Tree and Shrub program receives and distributes bare root seedlings provided by out-of-state nurseries. Packaging and shipping of conservation tree and shrub seedlings are handled at the state office.
Several district offices are located throughout the state. These offices are staffed by District Foresters able to deliver forestry programs to the citizens of Kansas. In addition the Agency has a Fire Management specialist assigned to the Hutchison Community College’s Fire Instruction Program and a Wildlife / Range Management specialist assigned to the Scott City office of the Natural Resources Conservation Service to assist with the Conservation Reserve Program’s prescribed fire requirements in support of the Nation’s interest in preserving and enhancing Lesser Prairie Chicken habitat.
Kansas Forest Action Plan: The Agency’s Road Map
Kansas forests and woodlands make up a small but important percentage of the Kansas landscape (10%) and are critical to public health and well-being. Woodlands and the wildlife that inhabit them are under increased threats from insects, disease, invasive species and conversion to other land uses. To address problems before they arrive and to target resources efficiently, broad public input was sought using expert’s best thinking to create the Kansas Forest Action Plan.
The plan identifies the top 7 threats and opportunities facing Kansas forests, woodlands and related natural resources, high priority areas and strategies for protection and management. This new approach helps the Kansas Forest Service prioritize and allocate funds and resources to produce the highest returns with respect to the ecological, social and economic benefits derived from our forests and agroforestry resources.