Forest Legacy Program

Photo Credit: Janet Valle

Forest Legacy Program

Forest Legacy Program

The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is a conservation program administered in partnership by the USDA Forest Service (Forest Service) and state agencies. The purpose of the FLP is to identify and conserve environmentally and economically important forested areas threatened by conversion to non-forest uses.

FLP is funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which invests earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to conserve important land, water, and recreation areas. The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) in August 2020 provided permanent funding for LWCF.

FLP encourages the protection of privately owned managed forest lands through conservation easements (CEs) or land purchases (fee simple). Landowners who participate in the program either sell their property outright or retain ownership and sell only a portion of the property’s development rights. The use of a CE, a perpetual legal agreement, allows the land to remain in private ownership while ensuring that its environmental values are retained. By incentivizing landowners to keep their forests as forests, FLP preserves public benefits, encourages sustainable forest management, and supports forest product markets.

Protecting forest lands maintains a wide range of public benefits, including water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and forest product industries. In addition, many projects include public access and recreation opportunities. Since its inception, FLP has conserved over 2.8 million acres of forest land across 53 states and territories. As private forest lands continue to face increasing conversion pressure, FLP remains a critically important conservation tool.


Forest Legacy in the West

In the western United States, FLP is crucial to the preservation of working forests, protection of communities from wildfire, and the conservation of wildlife and their habitat.

The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition, in cooperation with western state forestry agencies and the Forest Service, developed a publication to highlight the benefits of the FLP across the western states.

Download the WFLC Forest Legacy publication.


(Photo: Wyoming State Forestry Division)


Individual state stories can be accessed below. 

California

Mailliard Working Forest

The Mailliard Working Forest is the largest non-industrial, privately-held redwood forest in the United States. It has long been a top conservation priority for the State of California.

Learn more in California's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://www.fire.ca.gov/grants/forest-legacy/ and https://www.savetheredwoods.org/project/mailliard-ranch/.

(Photo: John Birchard)

Colorado

Banded Peak

The Navajo River Headwaters conservation easement protecting 16,723 acres is the culmination of a 20-year public-private effort to conserve 50,000 acres of southwest Colorado and northern New Mexico. Threatened by the expansion of nearby tourist destinations, the property’s conservation through the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program (FLP) ensures its continued protection of an essential watershed, critical wildlife habitat, and an active timber and hunting economy.

Learn more in Colorado's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://csfs.colostate.edu/forest-legacy-program/.

(Photo: John Fielder)

Federated States of Micronesia

Yela Valley

In Tafunsak, Kosrae State, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Yela Valley Forest Legacy project already conserves the heart of the largest intact ka (Terminalia carolinensis) forest in the world.

Learn more in FSM's Forest Legacy story.

For more information, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/r5/communityforests/?cid=fseprd477256.

(Photo: KIRMA)

Hawai‘i

Helemano Wilderness Area

The Helemano Wilderness Area Forest Legacy project was a complex acquisition that took over five years of partner collaboration with the USDA Forest Service, other partners, and multiple funding sources. This property now provides increased access for recreation and native Hawaiian traditional and cultural practices as well as environmental benefits and a new source for forest products. The acquisition also furthers the goals of the State of Hawai‘i related to economic, agricultural, and water sustainability.

Learn more in Hawaii's Forest Legacy story.

For more information, visit https://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/forest-legacy/.

(Photo: Richard Drake, DLNR)

 

Idaho

Hall Mountain-Kootenai Valley

The Hall Mountain-Kootenai Valley Forest Legacy project builds on two decades of conservation work to conserve nearly eighty thousand acres within 25 miles of the project lands. The project is a successful demonstration of the value of collaboration in achieving landscape scale impacts.

Learn more in Idaho's Forest Legacy story.

For more information, visit https://www.idl.idaho.gov/forestry/forest-legacy-program/.

(Photo: Robyn Miller)

Kansas

Baldwin Woods

In 2016, Baldwin Woods became the first and only USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy project in the State of Kansas. It exemplifies the power of public and private partnerships in conservation, especially in a state with limited conservation resources.

Learn more in Kansas' Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://www.kansasforests.org/ and www.biosurvey.ku.edu.

(Photo: Kansas Forest Service)

Montana

Kootenai Forestlands

The Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project builds on a legacy of private forest conservation in the State of Montana. The project put in place a conservation easement administered by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to protect 22,295 acres of productive timberland and wildlife habitat. The property remains a working forest in private ownership and provides numerous year-round benefits.

Learn more in Montana's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://fwp.mt.gov/conservation/habitat/forest-legacyhttps://y2y.net/, and https://greatnorthernlcc.org/.

(Photo: Chris Deming, TPL)

Nebraska

Chat Canyon

The Chat Canyon Wildlife Management Area was the first Forest Legacy project in the State of Nebraska. It opened in 2014 as the state’s first Forestry and Wildlife Management Area acquired through the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program. To achieve this, the project brought together the USDA Forest Service, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Environmental Trust, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It was the culmination of a 12-year effort by the Nebraska Forest Service to implement the Forest Legacy Program in the state.

Learn more in Nebraska's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://nfs.unl.edu/forest-legacy.

(Photo: NFS staff)

Nevada

Ash Canyon Gateway

Nevada’s first Forest Legacy project, the Ash Canyon Gateway project, sits between Carson City and Lake Tahoe. A cooperative project between the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, Carson City, and the Nevada Division of Forestry, the project secures Carson City’s only public motorized access from the east into Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park backcountry. Threatened by conversion to non-forest use by population growth, the Ash Canyon Gateway project supports local strategic initiatives and complements adjacent protected lands. The benefits of the project range from watershed and threatened and endangered species protection to economic, historic, and cultural benefits.

Learn more in Nevada's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit http://forestry.nv.gov/forestry-resources/forest-legacy/.

(Photo: Michelle Roberts)

New Mexico

Upper Rio Chama River Watershed

Adjacent to the Carson National Forest, the three-phase acquisition of the Upper Rio Chama River Watershed property, enabled by FLP, The Trust for Public Land, and the Forest Trust, took nearly a decade to complete. It now protects 11,655 acres of working forests and riparian areas. The project buffers the National Forest from the encroachment of private property development, reduces the wildland urban interface and associated wildland firefighting costs, preserves unique old growth forest, and supports a critical watershed.

Learn more in New Mexico's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://www.emnrd.nm.gov/sfd/forest-legacy/.

(Photo: Joe Carrillo)

Oregon

East Moraine of Wallowa Lake
(Photo: Leon Werdinger)

The East Moraine of Wallowa Lake is one of the world’s most perfectly formed glacial landscapes and an icon of eastern Oregon. Through the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program (FLP), Wallowa County acquired 1,533 acres of this landscape to conserve its ecological, cultural, and economic significance in perpetuity. This conservation initiative has been supported by a remarkable coalition of local and state government agencies and nonprofits resulting in additional lands along the East Moraine being protected since the FLP property was acquired.

Learn more in Oregon's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://www.oregon.gov/odf/aboutodf/Pages/grantsincentives.aspx.

(Photo: Leon Werdinger)

South Dakota

Good Earth State Park

Completed in 2014, South Dakota’s first proposed Forest Legacy project preserves the largest intact forest within the Blood Run National Historic Landmark. The property is both historically and ecologically significant, and its conservation through the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program led to the creation of the Good Earth State Park, a new destination for both the local community of Sioux Falls and international tourists.

Learn more in South Dakota's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://danr.sd.gov/Conservation/Forestry/ForestLegacyProgram/default.aspx.

(Photo: SD Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources)

Utah

Green Canyon

The Green Canyon Forest Legacy project lands in northern Utah have been owned by the same family since 1906. The current landowner has a strong conservation ethic and looked to the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program, in partnership with the State’s Division of Forestry, Fire & State Lands (FFSL), to ensure his property would be maintained to protect important environmental values and natural systems. The result is the preservation of an important local viewshed, protection of wildlife, and continued public access to recreation.

Learn more in Utah's Forest Legacy story.

For more information, visit https://ffsl.utah.gov/forestry/private-landowner-forestry-assistance/forest-legacy/.

(Photo: Utah Division of FFSL)

Washington

South Puget Sound Coastal Forest

In collaboration with the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and The Trust for Public Land worked with landowner Green Diamond Resource Company to protect approximately 20,000 acres of private forest lands in Mason County, near Puget Sound. Without protection, this land would have been at risk of conversion to non-forest use due to population pressure from nearby metropolitan areas. Protected, this working forest supports the local economy as well as critical habitat.

Learn more in Washington's Forest Legacy story.

For more information, visit https://www.dnr.wa.gov/leaving-legacy-forests.

(Photo: Justin Reznick)

Wyoming

Grand Canyon of the Black Hills 

The USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program enabled the State of Wyoming to permanently protect 4,714 acres of scenic canyonlands on the western edge of the Black Hills National Forest in partnership with nonprofits, including the National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and The Nature Conservancy. The acquisition enhances public access to and management of 1.2 million acres of national forest, protects valuable water resources and supports habitat.

Learn more in Wyoming's Forest Legacy story

For more information, visit https://wsfd.wyo.gov/forestry-assistance-programs/wyoming-forest-legacy-program.

(Photo: Toni Kahnke)


Learn More

Learn more about the USDA Forest Service Forest Legacy Program.

To learn more about the 2021 Western Forest Legacy publication, contact Sara Goodwin