RI Forest Legacy Program

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM)

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Deadline: Rolling

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit College / University

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Rhode Island

Location of residency: Rhode Island

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Overview:

Note: Applications are accepted year-round and are prioritized by the State's Forest Legacy Committee in the late summer. The project selection process is highly competitive on a national level and only the top one or two projects are forwarded to the Forest Service for funding consideration.

Congress created the Forest Legacy Program in 1990 to identify and protect important forestland from conversion to other uses. It is a is a partnership between the USDA, Forest Service and RI DEM to maintain traditional forest uses by providing funding for the purchase of land or conservation easements to prevent conversion of the land to other uses.The main tool used for protecting these important forests is conservation easements. The Federal government may fund up to 75% of program costs, with at least 25% coming from private, state or local sources.

What are conservation easements?

Forest Legacy conservation easements are legal agreements made with property owners to forever restrict development on their land. The State or Federal government pays for and holds the title to the conservation easement. The landowner is paid the market value of the easement based on an appraisal that is conducted of all Forest Legacy properties. The landowner retains ownership of the land and can continue the activities that occurred on the land in the past as long as they do not conflict with the terms of the easement. The conservation easement remains in place if the land is sold. The new owner is still bound by the terms of the easement and may not convert the land to nonforest uses. 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. 

Key Concepts

  • The Forest Legacy Program focuses on protecting the most important forest resources in the state and parcels adjacent to existing open space, those that have key water resources, or are exemplary examples of forest stewardship are most likely to be selected for funding.
  • When conservation easements (the preferred method in RI) are used, the land will remain privately owned. Conservation easements restrict development and require sustainable forestry practices while retaining private ownership of land.
  • Conservation easements remain in perpetuity (even if the land is sold).
  • The tracts remain "working forests" and are actively managed under the guidance of a forest management plan. The forest management plan is prepared by a forester, in consultation with the landowner, and is required to be updated every ten years to reflect changing conditions in the forest.
  • Applications are accepted year-round and are prioritized by the State's Forest Legacy Committee in the late summer. The project selection process is highly competitive on a national level and only the top one or two projects are forwarded to the Forest Service for funding consideration. All funding is subject to Congressional discretion.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.

Eligibility:

  • Eligibility:
    • Must be within the designated Forest Legacy Area. (See Map)
    • The forested acreage must be greater then 25 acres,
    • Compatible non-forest (pasture, cropland, non-forest wetlands) may be included but at least 75% of the property must be forest.

Preferences:

  • Priority is given to forest land that exhibits exceptional resource values, that has been shown to be threatened with conversion to non-forest use, and that is available at below fair market value.