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USDA Forest Service,
Lands and Realty Staff

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Phone: (202) 205-1248

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LWCF Purchases–Accomplishments


The Land and Water Conservation Fund
Success Stories

* Maroon Bells Wilderness
For nearly 20 years, hikers, campers and cross-country skiers have enjoyed the quiet majesty of the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness near Aspen, Colorado. Mountain climbers are attracted to the 14,000 foot peaks, fishermen enjoy the numerous trout streams and photographers flock to capture the mountains and golden aspen in the autumn. Their wilderness experience was threatened, however, when owners of a 472-acre inholding of mineral and timber rights expressed interest in creating a large quarry operation on the site.

In addition to creating noise and traffic, the operation would have harmed the area's scenic values, destroyed wildlife habitat and disrupted a popular trail used annually by thousands of hikers. With funds from the LWCF, the Forest Service was able to purchase the mineral and timber rights in 1999, preserving the area's unique character.

* Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches 2,150 miles through 14 states along mountain ridges from central Maine to Northern Georgia. One of the country's most popular recreational resources, the footpath attracts more than 4,000,000 hikers and visitors each year.
The Forest Service is among several federal agencies and private organizations working to complete the trail. The Forest Service has sought and received LWCF allocations for acquisition in the Cherokee National Forest (Tennessee), the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests (North Carolina), and the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests (Virginia). Altogether, the LWCF has funded the purchase of more than 150,000 acres along the trail, helping protect 98 percent of the trail corridor and preserving its impressive scenic values.

* Sawtooth National Recreation Area
The Sawtooth National Recreation Area in Idaho dazzles more than a million visitors each year with its jagged peaks, gem-like lakes, lush glacier-carved mountain meadows and valleys. Its free-running streams harbor endangered fish species such as chinook salmon and bull trout. Elk, deer and other wildlife co-exist with cattle from the region's many family ranches.

With much of the area facing strong development pressures, the Forest Service has used LWCF funds to purchase 5,000 acres of land. Conservation easements have been purchased on more than 18,000 privately-held acres facing likely subdivision. Many of these easements are adjacent to the Ponderosa, Salmon River and Sawtooth National Scenic Byways.

* Big Sur Ecosystem
The dramatic coastline of California's Big Sur area is famous around the word for its expansive meadows, dense redwood forests, rugged cliffs and pounding surf. Within easy reach of more than 20 million Californians, the area offers sought-after recreation opportunities from picnicking and bird watching to backcountry camping and hiking. More than a dozen species of threatened or endangered wildlife, including the southern sea otter and peregrine falcon, call the area home.

Since the early 1990's LWCF allocations have allowed the Forest Service—in partnership with several local conservation groups—to add more than 5,000 acres of Big Sur ocean-front property, trail-laced forests and grasslands to the Los Padres National Forest.

* Chattooga Wild and Scenic River
One of the Southeast's most popular recreation destinations, the 57-mile Chattooga Wild and Scenic River lies within a four-hour drive of over 15 million people in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. Visitors come for exceptional trout fishing, challenging white-water rafting, spectacular hiking and camping and numerous other activities. The river corridor's undeveloped shorelines, sheer rock cliffs and dense forests also provide critical habitat for many plant and animal species.

Although most of the river corridor is under National Forest ownership, several key inholdings prevent public access and large portions of the critical headwaters are under pressure from increasing development. To protect this unique resource, the Forest Service initiated a program in the early 1990's to acquire land through donations and purchases from willing sellers. So far, LWCF funds have allowed the Forest Service to purchase more than 6,000 acres within the river corridor.

* Sedona, Arizona - Red Rocks
With its majestic red rock cliffs set against a deep blue Arizona sky, Sedona and the surrounding Coconino National Forest attracts over 4 million visitors each year. Over 62,000 acres of wilderness provides a dramatic back-drop of sculpted buttes, arches, and slot canyons. In addition to its scenic value, the area boasts abundant archeological ruins, rock art, Native American history, biologically rich stream-side areas and important wildlife habitat.

The Forest Service is working in partnership with the community and national organizations to protect the exceptional natural and scenic values of the area through select acquisitions. In 1998, for example, the agency received LWCF allocations to purchase 110 acres adjacent to the Red Rock Secret Mountain Wilderness Area.

* Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
A spectacular 83-mile canyon dividing Oregon and Washington, the Columbia River Gorge was identified by Congress as a "National Treasure" for good reason. Encompassing more than 292,000 acres, this National Scenic Area abounds with dense forests, clear streams, dramatic waterfalls, sheer rock bluffs, and numerous threatened or endangered species of plants, fish and wildlife. Attracting more than four million visitors a year, the gorge also brings significant economic benefits to local communities.

Of the 97,728 acres in the Scenic Area administered by the Forest Service, over half are in private ownership. To protect vulnerable natural resources from growth pressures, the Forest Service has created a program to identify and acquire the most critical parcels available for purchase. Using LWCF funds, the agency has protected more than 31,000 acres since 1995.

* North Florida Wildlife Corridor
Located in an area connecting the Osceola National Forest (Florida) with the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (Georgia), the Pinhook Swamp protects freshwater supplies for nearly 20 million Floridians and Georgians. In addition it provides habitat for migratory waterfowl, bobcat, black bear and many species of threatened or endangered wildlife. An ongoing Forest Service purchase program is helping protect these natural resources—and subsequently benefiting local communities that depend on the 800,000-plus tourists who visit these public lands and waters each year.

A host of nonprofit conservation groups are working with the Forest Service to acquire additional wetlands threatened by commercial activity and development. More than 40,000 acres within the 170,000-acre wildlife corridor have been protected, thanks to the LWCF.


* Preserving Northeastern Forests
Among the most visited lands in the National Forest System, the Green Mountain National Forest (Vermont & Maine) and the White Mountain National Forest (New Hampshire) provide accessible and affordable recreation for millions of residents in the densely populated Northeast. Home to almost 2,000 miles of hiking trails, several ski areas and over 174,000 acres of Wilderness, these scenic forests are under intense development pressure for recreational housing.

In the last few years, the Forest Service has worked with local residents, nonprofit organizations and local, county and state governments to acquire key tracts that protect habitat for Atlantic salmon, trout and non-game species and provide improved public access to trails for hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. With LWCF allocations, the Forest Service has been able to protect more than 26,000 acres in these Northeastern forests.

* Pacific Northwest Streams
The American Fisheries Society estimates that 170 distinct populations of at-risk salmon and steelhead depend in some part on National Forests in the Pacific Northwest. To give these and other threatened fish species a better chance for recovery, the Forest Service continues to request and receive LWCF appropriations to acquire critical fisheries habitat in a variety of watersheds, including properties along the Skagit Wild and Scenic River, in Washington and the McKenzie Wild and Scenic River in Oregon.

More than 37,000 acres of riverbanks, upland forests, salt-marshes and other properties have been acquired using LWCF funds, providing key habitat not only to fish but also bald eagles, peregrine falcons, seabirds, shellfish, waterfowl and a host of other plant and animal species. The acquisitions also often expand and protect fishing, hiking, boating, and swimming opportunities for the public.

USDA Forest Service
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Last modified: Monday, 25-Jun-2007 17:33:33 CDT
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