Forestry has been an important part of American industry since the late 1600s and remains so to this day. As the importance of the timber industry was realized early in American history, so too was the need for laws to regulate it. For example, in 1708 New Hampshire passed an ordinance forbidding the harvesting of trees on ungranted lands. Since that time, statutes affecting the forestry industry have grown and evolved with the industry itself. From laws regulating timber theft to complex environmental regulations, those engaged in forestry must follow numerous state and federal laws both similar and distinct from those involved in other agricultural operations. Within the last thirty years there has been a dramatic increase in both the number and the complexity of the laws affecting forestry.   Read the full overview.


Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

National Forests, 16 U.S.C. §§ 471-546a-5

Federal Water Pollution and Control Act (a/k/a/ Clean Water Act), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1387

Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1531-1544

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2901-2912

Lacey Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 41-48

Lacey Act Amendments, 16 U.S.C. §§ 3371-3378

Protection of Migratory Game and Insectivorous Birds Act, 16 U.S.C. §§ 701-719c

Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, 16 U.S.C. § 528

Wildfire Disaster Recovery Act of 1989, 16 U.S.C. § 551

The Multiple Use Sustained Yield Act of 1960 (MUSYA), 16 U.S.C. § 528 et seq.

Scenic Areas, 16 U.S.C. §§ 541-546a-5

Timber Protection Act of September 20, 1922, 16 U.S.C. § 594

Healthy Forest Restoration Act of 2003, 16 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6591

Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Research Act of 1978, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1600-1614

Forest Ecosystems and Atmospheric Pollution Research Act of 1988, 16 U.S.C. §§ 1641-1650

Renewable Resources Extension Act of 1978, 16 USCS §§ 1671-1676

Wood Residue Utilization Act of 1978, 16 USCS §§ 1681-1687

Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978, 16 U.S.C. §§ 2101-2141

National Forest-Dependent Rural Communities Economic Diversification Act of 1990, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6611-6617

Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act of 2004, 16 U.S.C. §§ 6701-6707

Global Climate Change Prevention Act of 1990, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6701-6710

Study of Global Climate Change, Agriculture, and Forestry, 7 U.S.C. § 6702
Office of International Forestry, 7 U.S.C. § 6704
Institutes of Tropical Forestry, 7 U.S.C § 6706
Urban Forestry Demonstration Projects, 7 U.S.C § 6707

Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994 (Reorganization of Forest Service), 7 U.S.C. § 6963

International Forestry Cooperation Act of 1990, 16 U.S.C. §§ 4501-4505

Hawaii Tropical Forest Recovery Act, 16 U.S.C. § 4503b

Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) of 1998, 22 U.S.C. 2431

Compilation of States’ Recreational Use Statutes

Compilation of States’ Agritourism Statutes


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Parts 300-399

Healthy Forests Reserve Program Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 625

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 636

Tree Assistance Program, 7 C.F.R. §§ 783.1-783.9

Forest Service, Department of Agriculture, 36 C.F.R. §§ 200.1-297.6

Forestry Land Enhancement Program, 36 C.F.R. §§ 230.30-230.46

Wilderness Preservation, 43 C.F.R. §§ 19.1-19.8

Forest Management, 43 C.F.R. §§ 5003.1-5511.5

Management of Designated Wilderness Areas, 43 C.F.R. §§ 6301.1-6305.30

Endangered Species Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. Part 17

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act Regulations, 50 C.F.R. §§ 83.1-83.21

Importation, Exportation, and Transportation of Wildlife, 50 C.F.R. §§ 14.1-14.255

Case Law

Case Law Index for Forestry

Center Research Publications

Landowners’ Legal Liability Concern – Webinar Presentation (R. Rumley)

Limiting Liability with Business Organizations – Webinar Presentation (R. Rumley)

Managing Legal Risk for Alternative Uses of Forestland (R. Rumley, Hatch, Walkingstick, E. Rumley, McPeake)

Compilation of State Forestry Organizations (Rumley & Knyazhishcheva, 2009)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017

Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:


Climate Change

Environmental Issues


Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Forestry:

Energy Issues
Environmental Issues
Land Use Regulation
Public Lands

Reference Resources

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Agriculture: Forestry
Land Use, Land Use Change & Forestry

Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS)

Horticulture & Forestry
Forest Products Market News

Forest Service (FS)

Forest Service Directives
Schedule of Proposed Actions (SOPA)
International Programs
Federal Income Tax on Timber – FAQs

Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

The Farmer’s Tax Guide
Forest Activities Schedule (Form T – Timber)
Business Expenses Guide
Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets
Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Forestry and Grasslands

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Wildfire Interactive Maps
Drought Index

National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Agricultural Wildlife Conservation Center
Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP)
Stewardship Incentive Program (SIP)
Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI)
Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
Forestry Technical Resources
Forest Land

National Agroforestry Center

Other Federal Resources

Natural Resources and Environment: Forest and Forestry (USDA)

Conserving Biodiversity and Forests (United States Agency for International Development)


National Agroforestry Center Research Publications

Recent Literature and Resources: Forest Management on Public Lands

Minimizing Federal Income Tax for Forest Landowners (MI St. U., 2005)

Forest Landowners’ Guide to the Federal Income Tax (USDA)

State of the World’s Forests 2007 (FAO)

Estate Planning for Forest Landowners: What Will Become of Your Timberland? (Siegel, Haney, and Greene)

Additional Resources

Using Alternative Enterprises to Bolster Farm Incomes, Part 1 – Webinar Presentation (Tullos)
Using Alternative Enterprises to Bolster Farm Incomes, Part 2 – Webinar Presentation (Tullos)
Building on the Business Concept and Incorporating the Wildlife Lease as Your Profit Tool – Webinar Presentation (Tullos)
Drafting the Alternative Enterprise Plan for Your Property: Committing to the Budding Business – Webinar Presentation (Tullos)
Forestry Posts (Ag & Food Law Blog)
American Forest and Paper Association
American Forest Foundation
American Forests
American Tree Farm System
American Wood Council
Ask a Forester
Association of Consulting Foresters
Center for International Trade in Forest Products (U. of WA)
Dictionary of Forestry
Ecoforestry Institute
ForestryGuide: Gottingen State and University Library of Germany
Forest Landowners Tax Council
Forestry Library (U. of MN)
Forest Products Society
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – Forestry
Forest Resources Association
Forest Stewardship Council
International Union of Forest Research Organizations
Intermountain Forest Association
International Forest Industries
International Society of Arboriculture
International Tropical Timber Organization
Australian Forest Products Association (Australia)
National Council for Air & Stream Improvement (NCASI)
National Forest Foundation
National Hardwood Lumber Association
National Network of Forest Practitioners
National Wildlife Federation
North American Wholesale Lumber Association
Private Forest Landowners Association
Roundtable on Sustainable Forests
Society of American Foresters
Society of Wood Science and Technology
Southern Group of State Foresters
Southern Forest Products Association
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Sustainable Forestry Initiative
Technical Association of the Pulp & Paper Industry (TAPPI)
The Green Valley Institute
National Woodland Owners Association
National Association of State Foresters
Western Forestry Leadership Coalition
Western Wood Products Association