Utah Forest Legacy Program acquires conservation easement

SALT LAKE CITY—The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national land conservation organization, purchased and transferred to the state of Utah a conservation easement over 837 acres of forest land in Carbon County, Utah, on January 14. The easement—which will be held by the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands—protects the land from future subdivision for development and continues traditional uses on this “working landscape.”

Located east of Sunnyside and East Carbon in the spectacular Book Cliffs area, the property fronts Range Creek, which is considered one of Utah’s premier trout streams. Owned by Keith and Arlene Allred of South Jordan, Utah, this working ranch ranges in elevation from 6,900′ to 8,800′, and features open meadows, steep forestland, and dramatic rock formations.

In 1997 Utah became the second state in the nation to qualify for participation in the USDA Forest Service’s Forest Legacy Program. The program was established to help private landowners conserve their forested land by entering into legal agreements that maintain traditional forest uses and protect the land from development. Funds for the program are appropriated each year by Congress. Thanks to the strong support of the Utah congressional delegation, especially U.S. Senator Robert Bennett, in its first year Utah received $1 million of a total of $7 million available nationwide.

“We are pleased with the level of interest landowners are showing in Utah’s Forest Legacy Program,” said State Forester Art DuFault. “Our partnership with the Trust for Public Land and the USDA Forest Service is reaping great dividends for the people of Utah.”

The Trust for Public Land responded to a request from the state’s Forest Legacy Program in January 1998 to assist in negotiating conservation easements on behalf of the program. With the completion of this project, Utah Forest Legacy and TPL have protected more than 11,380 acres of prime forest land, all in the last six months. TPL has nearly 10,000 additional acres currently under option, and is negotiating to purchase easements on another 50,000 acres.

“TPL is proud of its partnership with the Utah Forest Legacy Program,” said TPL project manager Deb Frey. “Utah forest landowners now have the ability to receive compensation for agreeing never to develop their property. Forest Legacy is a wonderful tool in the conservation toolbox.”