US Forest Service chief Gail Kimbell announced $50 million in grants to permanently protect 24 working forests across 21 States, as part of the Forest Legacy Program, a USDA press release said.
The programme is designed to permanently protects important private forestland threatened by conversion.
“The Forest Legacy Program conserves open space, which allows us to respond to climate change, improves water quality and flows and connects children to nature,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“The strength of the Forest Legacy Program is the co-operation between States, partners and private landowners, all working together to protect environmentally and economically important forests that are threatened by conversion.”
Examples of 2009 projects include: forest essential for wildlife and recreation in Maine; pine ecosystem critical for threatened and endangered species in Arkansas and working forests that support rural jobs in Oregon.
The Forest Legacy Program promotes voluntary land conservation by operating on the principle of “willing buyer, willing seller”.
Private forest landowners are facing increasing real estate prices, property taxes and development pressure, which result in conversion of forests to other land uses.
The Forest Legacy Program focuses on conserving working forests – those that provide clean water, forest products, fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.
Most Forest Legacy Program projects are conserved through conservation easements, allowing landowners to keep their forestlands while protecting them from future development.
Source: USDA press release
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