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How the Forest Legacy Program Works

A mountain, stream, and forest landscape.
(Courtesy photo by Steve Neel)

Conserving Forests through Partnership

Large stacks of cut timber.
Timber products from well managed private forests feed local mills. (Photo by Josh Birnbaum/National Association of State Foresters)

The purpose of the Forest Legacy Program is to identify and conserve environmentally important forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. Providing economic incentives to landowners to keep their forest as forests encourages sustainable forest management and supports strong markets for forest products.

Landowners may participate in the Forest Legacy Program by either selling their property outright or by retaining ownership and selling only a portion of the property’s development rights; both are held by state agencies or another unit of government. The use of a conservation easement, a legal agreement between a landowner and a non-profit land trust or governmental agency, allows the land to remain in private ownership while ensuring that its environmental values are retained.


There are currently two funding sources for the Forest Legacy Program; the annual funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) allocated by Congress and funding that has been made available through the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). As a result, there are now two separate annual application cycles for LWCF and IRA funding.

Funded Projects

A photo of a stream waterfall
Lakes, streams, and ponds conserved through the Forest Legacy Program filter and protect drinking water for communities. (Photo by Steve Neel)

Annual Request for Projects

Program Guidelines and Performance

Resources for Practitioners

National Contact

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

Claire Harper
Forest Legacy Program Manager
(303) 895-6157