Forest Legacy Program provides opportunity for private landowners to conserve forested lands

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    By Teddy Parker-Renga
    Colorado State Forest Service

    Colorado landowners who want to protect environmentally valuable private forest areas that could someday be threatened by development or conversion to other non-forest uses — and who desire to receive monetary compensation in the process — now have the opportunity to submit proposals to protect their forestlands.

    The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) is accepting Forest Legacy Program proposals from Colorado landowners. The program authorizes the CSFS or U.S. Forest Service to purchase permanent conservation easements or contribute to fee acquisitions on private forestlands to prevent those lands from being converted to non-forest uses.

    The purpose of the Colorado Forest Legacy Program is to protect environmentally important private forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. The program provides an opportunity for private landowners to retain ownership and management of their land while receiving compensation for unrealized development rights.

    In order to be eligible for the program, the proposed property must be located within a Forest Legacy Area, as identified in the Assessment of Need for the Colorado Forest Legacy Program; must be privately owned; and must consist of at least 75 percent of lands that are classified as forests. At least 25 percent of the project costs must be planned to be secured from nonfederal cash or in-kind sources.

    The application deadline is June 30 for federal fiscal year 2023 funding and proposals must be submitted by standard mail.

    Forestlands that contain important scenic, cultural, recreation and water resources, including fish and wildlife habitat and other ecological values, and that support traditional forest uses, will receive priority. Landowners who elect to participate in the program are required to follow a land management plan approved by the CSFS. Activities consistent with the management plan are permitted, including timber harvesting, grazing and recreation activities.

    The Colorado State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee will evaluate proposals and recommend to the state forester those proposals that have sufficient merit to forward to the U.S. Forest Service. Forwarded proposals will then compete at a regional and national level for funding.

    For more information or to obtain an application packet, contact Carolyn Aspelin with the CSFS at (970) 690-4271 or carolyn.aspelin@colostate.edu. Applications also are available at csfs.colostate.edu/forest-legacy-program.