TPL Applauds Proposed Forest Legacy Increase

WASHINGTON, 2/2/04 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, today announced its support for a White House proposal to increase spending for the federal U.S. Forest Service Forest Legacy Program in the fiscal year which begins Oct. 1. The program provides grant assistance to states to help keep forestlands from being developed.

The Bush Administration has requested $100 million for fiscal year 2005, an increase of $30 million from last year.

“Forestlands across America will benefit from the President’s commitment to increased funding for the Forest Legacy Program” said Alan Front, TPL Senior Vice President. “The Forest Legacy Program is little more than a decade old, but in that brief time, it has become an important, popular tool to protect local economies and open space. This budget proposal wisely recognizes the value of the program.”

TPL projects included in the Administration’s budget proposal will protect significant forestland in California, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah and Wisconsin.

“We look forward to working with the Bush Administration and the Congress in the coming months to sustain this proposed funding and ensure successful on-the-ground forest conservation,” said Front.

The Forest Legacy Program, authorized by Congress in 1990 to keep intact natural and recreational resources of the nation’s dwindling forests, provides federal money to states to protect threatened woodlands either through public purchase or conservation easements. The latter are voluntary agreements in which landowners are paid to give up future development rights on their property.

“The greatest single threat to private forestlands – and their wildlife, water quality, and recreational value – is conversion to development or other non-forest uses,” explained Front. “The Forest Legacy program has been an effective land-saving response to that threat.”

With its minimum requirement of 25 percent non-federal matching funds, the program leverages state and private dollars to complement federal money, creating partnerships that have lasting value.

“The Forest Legacy Program offers the opportunity for the federal government to work in partnerships with states, local communities, private organizations and landowners to generate long-term investment in community-based conservation solutions,” added Front.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. With funding from the Forest Legacy Program, the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, state and local open-space funds, and other public and private investments, TPL has helped to protect more than 1.4 million acres across the country. Forest Legacy projects completed by TPL recently include the Connecticut Headwaters in northern New Hampshire, which protected 171,000 acres, and the Thompson-Fisher project in northwest Montana, which protected 142,000 acres.