The Forest Legacy Program (FLP), a Federal program in partnership with States, supports State efforts to protect environmentally sensitive forest lands. Designed to encourage the protection of privately owned forest lands, FLP is an entirely voluntary program. To maximize the public benefits it achieves, the program focuses on the acquisition of partial interests in privately owned forest lands. FLP helps the States develop and carry out their forest conservation plans. It encourages and supports acquisition of conservation easements, legally binding agreements transferring a negotiated set of property rights from one party to another, without removing the property from private ownership. Most FLP conservation easements restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices, and protect other values.
The Forest Legacy Program complements private, Federal and State programs focusing on conservation in two ways. First, FLP directly supports property acquisition. Additionally, FLP supports efforts to acquire donated conservation easements. FLP funded acquisitions serve public purposes identified by participating states and agreed to by the landowner.
Participation in Forest Legacy is limited to private forest landowners. To qualify, landowners are required to prepare a multiple resource management plan as part of the conservation easement acquisition. The federal government may fund up to 75% of project costs, with at least 25% coming from private, State or local sources. In addition to gains associated with the sale or donation of property rights, many landowners also benefit from reduced taxes associated with limits placed on land use.
The USDA Forest Service administers the Forest Legacy Program in cooperation with State partners. The state grant option allows States a greater role in implementing the program. FLP also encourages partnerships with local governments and land trusts, recognizing the important contributions landowners, communities, and private organizations make to conservation efforts.
Click here for a list of state and regional coordinators