Forest Service Chief Abigail Kimbell today announced the award of $54 million in grants today to permanently protect thirty-five working forests across thirty-two states.
“The Forest Legacy Program conserves open space which allows us to respond to climate change, improves water quality and flows, and connects children to nature,” said Kimbell. “The strength of the Forest Legacy Program is the cooperation between States, partners, and private landowners—all working together to protect environmentally and economically important forests that are threatened by conversion.”
The Forest Legacy Program is the only Federal grant program focused on the permanent protection of important private forestland. The Forest Legacy Program promotes voluntary land conservation by operating on the principle of “willing buyer, willing seller.”
Examples of 2008 projects include: a forest vital for wildlife and cultural resources in Georgia; a rare pine barren ecosystem in New Hampshire; and a valley in Montana with abundant recreation opportunities, rare fish and wildlife, and local economic benefits.
Private forest landowners are facing increasing real estate prices, property taxes, and development pressure, resulting in conversion of forests to other land uses. The Forest Legacy Program focuses on conserving working forests – those that provide clean water, forest products, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. Most Forest Legacy Program projects are conserved through conservation easements, allowing landowners to keep their forestlands while protecting them from future development.
The Forest Legacy Program uses a national competitive process to select the most ecologically and socially important, threatened, and strategic projects. The program consistently affects more than 50-percent non-federal match of funds to improve water quality and flows, climate change and to connect children to nature. Each project needs to be at least 75-percent forested, comply with Federal appraisal standards, and complete a multi-resource forest management plan. For 2008, the Forest Service selected 35 projects out of 82 excellent State proposals that totaled $192 million.
For more information on the Forest Legacy Program, please visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/cooperativeforestry/programs/loa/flp.shtml