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.
Individual state stories can be accessed below.