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How the Community Forest Program Works

A calm lake bordered by a golden forest.
Photo by Steve Neel.

The Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (Community Forest Program) of the Forest Service offers a unique opportunity for communities to acquire and conserve forests that provide public access and recreational opportunities, protect vital water supplies and wildlife habitat, serve as demonstration sites for private forest landowners, and provide economic benefits from timber and non-timber products.

Program Basics

People looking at a visitor bulletin board at a trail head.
Community forests expand recreation opportunities. Photo by Janet Valle.
  • Full fee title acquisition is required. Conservation easements are not eligible.

  • Community Forests can be owned by local governments, tribal governments, and qualified nonprofit entities.

  • The program pays up to 50% of the project costs and requires a 50% non-federal match.

  • Public access is required for Community Forest Program projects.

  • Lands acquired through the program are actively managed in accordance with a community forest plan to provide community benefits.

How to Apply

The Forest Service releases an annual request for applications for the Community Forest Program (CFP). The Request for Applications for Fiscal Year 2024 is now available. Applications are due to State Foresters or equivalent Tribal officials by January 12, 2024. Applications are encouraged from across the country. If you are interested in applying, contact your CFP Regional Contact. For complete information on the program and application process, see the Final Rule.

In September and October 2023, the Forest Service and the Land Trust Alliance co-hosted two informational webinars about the Fiscal Year 2024 Request for Applications.

The September webinar provided an overview of the Community Forest Program, including eligibility and program requirements, the timeline for the current application cycle, how to apply, and much more. Review the September how to apply webinar recording.

The October webinar included speakers from Kaniksu Land Trust who highlighted the Pine Street Woods Community Forest in Idaho and a presentation from the Land Trust Alliance about community-centered conservation. Review the October webinar recording for land trusts.

Application Resources

Man standing on a rock speaking to a group of people.
Community forests provide educational opportunities. Photo by Margee Haines.

News Room

Funding and Accomplishments

Regulations and Policies

Program Guidelines and Performance

Community Forest Program Accomplishment Map

Status map of the Community Forest Program for Fiscal Year 2023

Community Forest Program Progress as of April 20, 2023

National Contact

Scott Stewart
Forest Legacy Program Manager & Community Forest Program Manager
(202) 205-1618

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