Utah’s Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is designed to protect and manage, for future generations, environmentally important forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses, such as development and subdivision. Conservation easements are used to achieve this goal with priority given to lands which:
- are at risk of conversion to non-forest uses
- protect and enhance water quality and water supplies
- protect wildlife habitat and maintain connectivity of wildlife movement corridors
- maintain and restore riparian areas
- assist in maintaining the cultural and economic vitality of rural communities
- directly border existing protected lands, such as other FLP projects or public lands
The program is funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which invests a small percentage of federal offshore drilling fees toward the conservation of important land, water, and recreation areas for all Americans. The passage of the Great American Outdoors Act provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
The use of a conservation easement, a legal agreement between a willing-seller landowner and the state, allows the land to remain in private ownership while ensuring that its environmental values are retained. Instead of making a costly outright purchase of forest land, conservation easements limit development rights. This ensures that the land will remain in forest cover while private landowners continue to own, manage and use their lands and natural resources.
Providing economic incentives to landowners to keep their forest as forests encourages sustainable forest management and supports strong markets for forest products. Loss of forested areas poses an increasing threat to the integrity of the nation’s natural resources. As these areas are fragmented and disappear, so do the benefits they provide.
Protection of private forests through the FLP maintains a multitude of public benefits including: hunting and recreational opportunities, clean and abundant drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, as well as providing timber, fuel wood, and other forest products.
Private Landowner Forests
The role of private forest lands in helping produce a sustainable flow of goods and services dramatically exceeds that of Federal lands. Across America, 60% of forested lands are non-Federal. The wise use of these lands is critical to the health and quality of human life, for ourselves and future generations. Successful conservation and the continuing goods and services flow from natural resources depend on encouraging sound forest stewardship by private landowners.
Conservation easements provide a tool to protect the basic values associated with a desirable quality of life for the citizens of Utah. These “working forests” protect water quality and provide wildlife habitat, forest products, opportunities for recreation, and other public benefits.
Land Management Plan
Accompanying the conservation easement is a Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) for the property. The FSP is written to encourage long-term stewardship by assisting private landowners with the active management of their forest and related resources. It is intended to be an action-oriented, working document. The Plan is amended periodically to schedule a new phase of management practices, account for changes in landowner objectives, land ownership, forest health conditions, or other factors which may not have been originally present.
Since its creation in 1990, the FLP has conserved over 2.8 million acres of forest land and expanded across the country to 53 states and territories. The program has been operating in Utah since 1999.
Explore the places and projects that the Forest Legacy Program has conserved through the Forest Legacy Interactive Map.
Working with our partners, the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands has accomplished the following:
- 83,859 acres protected
- 31 projects completed
- $35.4 million awarded in Forest Legacy funds
- $28.9 million donated by landowners
- $11.1 million matched with non-federal funds
- $69.4 million received in conservation easement value
The Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC), in cooperation with western state forestry agencies and the USDA Forest Service, recently developed a publication highlighting the Forest Legacy Program (FLP). The publication features a collection of stories from 14 western states and the Federated States of Micronesia. Narratives in the publication aim to inform readers of the benefits of the FLP across the western states. In the publication, Utah’s Green Canyon Forest Legacy property is highlighted on page 15.
Funding support from the Governor’s Quality Growth Commission has supplemented USDA Forest Service funding. We have also developed partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, Utah Open Lands, The Trust for Public Lands, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The cooperation and common interests of these public-private partnerships have been instrumental in program success.
The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands accepts pre-applications for the Forest Legacy Program in October of every year. Interested landowners and/or land trusts may contact Natalie Conlin to receive a pre-application form.
For more information on protecting your private forested land in perpetuity, please contact: