Forest Service Master Stewardship Agreements

Forest Service Master Stewardship Agreements: What They Are and How They Work

The U.S. Forest Service manages over 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands. As the stewards and caretakers of these public lands, the Forest Service has a responsibility to ensure their long-term sustainability and ecological health. One way they accomplish this is through the use of Master Stewardship Agreements (MSAs).

What are Forest Service Master Stewardship Agreements?

MSAs are cooperative agreements between the Forest Service and external partners or stakeholders that work together to achieve common goals related to forestry and natural resource management. The agreements are designed to facilitate collaboration among diverse groups of stakeholders, including state and local agencies, non-profit organizations, tribes, and private landowners.

MSAs are typically long-term agreements that last between 10 and 20 years. They focus on implementing specific forest management practices and conservation measures that align with the Forest Service’s priorities and goals.

Why are MSAs important?

MSAs are an essential tool for achieving effective and sustainable forest management. They help the Forest Service leverage resources and expertise from outside partners, which is crucial given the agency’s limited funding and workforce.

MSAs also foster collaboration and build relationships between the Forest Service and external stakeholders. By involving a variety of groups from different sectors, MSAs can help ensure that forest management practices are informed by diverse perspectives and interests. Additionally, MSAs can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of forestry programs, resulting in better outcomes and more sustainable management practices.

What activities are covered under MSAs?

MSAs cover a wide range of activities, including timber harvesting, reforestation, wildlife habitat restoration, invasive species control, and recreation management. The specific activities included in an MSA depend on the goals and priorities identified by both the Forest Service and the external partner(s).

MSAs are designed to be flexible, allowing partners to adapt to changing conditions and priorities over time. This means that the scope and objectives of an MSA may evolve as new forest management challenges arise or new priorities emerge.

How are MSAs implemented?

The implementation of an MSA typically involves a series of steps, including project planning, baseline data collection, project design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The Forest Service and external partners collaborate closely throughout the process to ensure that project objectives are met, and that work is conducted safely and sustainably.

MSAs are governed by a set of rules and regulations that ensure that all activities are conducted in compliance with federal laws and regulations, including the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Endangered Species Act (ESA).


Master Stewardship Agreements are a powerful tool for achieving effective and sustainable forest management. By facilitating collaboration among diverse stakeholders and leveraging external resources and expertise, MSAs can help the Forest Service achieve its mission of sustainably managing national forests and grasslands. If you are interested in learning more about how MSAs are implemented or how you can get involved in forest management, contact your local Forest Service office or visit the agency’s website.