FOREST LEGACY PROGRAM
USDA FOREST SERVICE AND NEW MEXICO ENERGY, MINERALS AND NATURAL RESOURCES AND NEW MEXICO STATE FORESTRY DIVISION
The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is a federally funded program and supports State efforts to protect environmentally sensitive forest lands. Program funding is dependent on annual appropriations from Congress and works in partnership with private landowners living in most of the lower 48 states, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, America Samoa, the Federated State of Micronesia, and various other Pacific islands.
Deadline to Apply
States can submit up to three projects for final review by Congress no later than the end of November for funding consideration the following fiscal year.
The FLP is open to private forest landowners on a volunteer basis only.
To qualify, a property must be 75% forested with timber or riparian woodland species and must meet certain eligibility criteria. Properties less than 40 acres in size generally will not be considered unless they contain significant features such as endangered species habitat or rare types of forest.
Funding Potential for Award
The federal government may fund up to 75% of project costs, with at least 25% coming from private, State, or local sources. In addition to gains associated with the sale, donation, or property rights, many landowners also benefit from reduced taxes associated with limits placed on land use.
Funding for the Forest Legacy Program has ranged from $50 – 70 million per year in the past, but most recently decreased to a maximum amount of $60 – 65 million in annual funding. The funding level for FY21 increased to $108 million so future years maybe higher than the past five.
Range of Awards
For fiscal year 2020, funding averaged $2,666,250.00 per project with a range of $225,000 to $7,000,000.
Funding Cycle – Duration
Funds are granted for the purchase of conservation easements or fee acquisition of forest lands for permanent conservation on an annual basis with a five-year maximum amount of time to complete a project
Landowners are required to complete an application which can be obtained from the New Mexico Forest Legacy Coordinator for the property they would like to conserve. In addition, applicants are encouraged to attach a multiple resource management plan to the application for review. If their project is chosen and receives funding, the plan will ultimately become part of the conservation easement acquisition.
Applications are accepted by the State’s Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee (SFSCC) throughout the year for their initial review and ranking. Up to three applications will be chosen
by the SFSCC in early fall and ultimately ranked against all participating landowners for funding consideration in the next fiscal year.
Selection Criteria and Decision Authority
All FLP project applications go through a rigorous selection process.
1. Each participating (SFSCC) evaluates and prioritizes all the applications received for funding consideration in the next fiscal year.
2. Once prioritized, each state submits up to three of their top projects to a regional review panel who will rank them in order of environmental importance.
3. Each region then submits their ranked project list to Congress where they will be reviewed and ranked again based on national core criteria (importance, threatened, and strategic). In addition, other items such as project readiness, State priority, and State caseload and backlog will also be considered.
4. Once the final ranking is complete, Congress will submit the list to the United States Office of Management and Budget for final consideration by the Senate, who will determine which projects receive funding and for what amount.
5. When the President’s budget is finalized for the following fiscal year, a list is sent to the United States Forest Service with the names and award amounts of each FLP project that was submitted. Projects will be funded in order of where they fall on the list beginning with number one until the amount of available money is gone. Projects that do not receive funding can reapply for the next funding cycle and the process begins again.
The Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act (CFAA) of 1978, as amended, (16 U.S.C. 2101 et. seq.) provides authority for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to provide financial, technical, educational, and related assistance to States, communities, and private forest landowners. Section 1217 of Title XII of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-624: 104 stat.3359; 16 U.S.C. 2103c), also referred to as the 1990 Farm Bill, amended the CFAA and directs the Secretary to establish the FLP to protect environmentally important forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. This authority continues indefinitely. Through the 1996 Farm Bill (Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996; P.L. 104-127; Title III – Conservation; Subtitle G – Forestry; Section 374, Optional State Grants for Forest Legacy Program), the Secretary is authorized, at the request of a participating State, to make a grant to the State to carry out the FLP in that State, including the acquisition by the State of lands and interests in lands.
Land Conservation Incentives Act:
Natural Heritage Conservation Act: