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Forest Legacy Program (FLP)

Protecting environmentally important forests from conversion to nonforest uses

Created by Congress in 1990, the Forest Legacy Program (FLP) supports states' efforts to protect environmentally sensitive, privately owned forestland from conversion to non-forest uses. The FLP protects "working forests" that provide several environmental services and public benefits. FLP tracts can be managed for sustainable timber production as well as water quality and watershed protection, maintenance of open space, scenic lands, wildlife habitat and opportunities for outdoor recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, and hiking.

Participating states work with a variety of partners to accomplish the goals of the FLP. Conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and The Trust for Public Land, as well as local non-profit land conservancies, help develop projects and leverage additional dollars to complement federal money. Partners also play crucial roles in the pre and post acquisition work. The program pays up to 75% of the project costs. States and local government receive funds and hold title to conservation easements or lands in fee simple.

Land enrolled in the Forest Legacy Program must remain forested and requires a forest stewardship or multiple-use management plan. Since its inception, the Forest Legacy Program has helped protect nearly 1.7 million acres in 48 states and territories.

Project Examples
Walls of Jericho, Tennessee
The Walls of Jericho (also called Cumberland Mountain) project is comprised of multiple hardwood tracts that comprise nearly 15,000 acres on Carter Mountain in Franklin County, Tennessee and Jackson County, Alabama. This area once formed the Harry Lee Carter estate and has attracted over three decades of public and private protection efforts. The site contains the highest concentration of cave ecosystems known in the world and has the highest subterranean invertebrate diversity in the world. The Walls of Jericho Tract, a fee simple acquisition, was matched with a fee simple donation of the David Carter Tract by the Nature Conservancy. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency holds title to this property, and manages it for sustainable forestry and wildlife habitat protection.

Sugar Hill, Minnesota
The Sugar Hills Project consists of a conservation easement acquisition on 1,659 acres that are an outstanding example of a Northern Rich Mesic Hardwood Forest, a community considered rare in Minnesota. The property contains 28 kilometers of the best and most scenic cross country ski trails in the Upper Midwest. This project is a partnership between the Nature Conservancy, the Blandin Foundation of Grand Rapids, the Trust for Public Land, the State of Minnesota, and many others. The landowners run a family owned timber and forest products business that has been operating in the Grand Rapids region for four generations. They are committed to ensuring the long term sustainable management of northern Minnesota forests for economic, environmental, and social benefits. The easement will protect the ski trails, provide public recreational access, and continue the production of high value forest products.


Contact Information
Kathryn Conant
National Forest Legacy Program Manager
USDA Forest Service, Cooperative Forestry
240-481-5978 (cell)
202-205-1271 (fax)

Last Updated January 26, 2010

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