People who live in the western United States have long considered the United States Forest Service to be a mammoth, hierarchical bureaucracy. The Forest Service has responsibility for managing the national forests, which in some western states comprise substantial components of the total land base. The Forest Service administers the national forests pursuant to numerous congressional mandates. Perhaps the most important and most difficult task that Congress has assigned the Forest Service is to manage the national forests for multiple uses, including resource (timber, mineral, oil and gas) extraction, recreation, fish and wildlife, and water quality. Implementation of this multiple-use mandate constantly embroils the Forest Service in controversy.

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