The Kansas Forest Service, successor to the Kansas Commissioner of Forestry Office, is the Nation’s fifth oldest state forestry agency. Created by legislative act in 1887, the Agency celebrates its anniversary every year on March 10th. 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 Kansas Forest Service is housed as an independent agency within K-State Research and Extension. The Agency receives its direction from a mission statement that reads:
"Sustaining and enhancing natural resources and communities through forestry and wildland fire management."
The Kansas Forest Service is a 30-person agency housed in the state office, and several district and special program offices around the state. The Agency’s state office facility was constructed on Kansas State University grounds 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 military property for loan to rural fire departments across the state. The Conservation Tree Planting Program Greenhouse was added in 1974. It produces container-grown hardwood, evergreen and pollinator plant 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. Selling, packaging and shipping of conservation tree and shrub seedlings are handled each spring and fall at the state office.
Several district and special project rental offices are located throughout the state. These offices are staffed by Foresters and Fire Managers able to deliver rural, community, forest products, wildfire prevention and management and special forestry programs to private landowners, towns and cities, commercial enterprises and youth throughout Kansas. Areas of specialization are on the rise with new staff fulfilling forest utilization and marketing, water quality, wildfire prevention and management, community forestry, geographic information systems (GIS), communications and peer-to-peer outreach coordination throughout the state. A key bridge is the Kansas Forest Service’s Technical Service Provider Agreement with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service as this is the avenue for which forest property owners qualify for forestry cost share assistance funding. Two other key bridges are the Forest Service’s connect to the USDA Forest Service’s Resource Ordering and Status System and the Agency’s connect to the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City USA Program. The former is the state’s process to receive outstate wildfire suppression support and the state’s process for assisting with wildfire suppression challenges outside the state. The latter is the state’s process for recognizing and rewarding communities actively managing their public tree and open space resources.
Take a virtual tour showcasing impacts the Kansas Forest Service has had throughout the state!