The purpose of the Forest Legacy Program is to identify and conserve environmentally important forest areas threatened by conversion to nonforest uses, through conservation easements or fee simple purchase. The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is a voluntary land conservation partnership which provides project acquisition grants to participating States through a competitive grant process. Projects are evaluated and prioritized by State lead agencies, in consultation with the State Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committees. All States and territories participate except North Dakota, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. State priorities and eligible areas are identified by the participating states through the Forest Legacy Program Assessment of need requirements that are developed as part of the State Forest Action Plans. Projects are submitted to the Forest Service for consideration during a National project review process. Projects are evaluated and prioritized through criteria that evaluate; the ecological and economic importance, the degree of threat of conversion to nonforest use if it is not conserved, and the strategic importance and contribution to the objectives of strategic plans. Project readiness and other factors are also considered. The Program works with State partners and operates on a willing seller and willing buyer basis and is completely nonregulatory in its approach. No eminent domain authority or adverse condemnation is authorized for this Program. Landowner participation in the program is voluntary and consists of two components: (1) conveying land or interests in land to achieve land conservation objectives and (2) preparing and periodically updating a Forest Stewardship Management Plan or a multi-resource management plan, when the participation is through conservation easement. Grants must be cost-shared by at least 25% of nonfederal dollars. The non-Federal cost share may consist of: funds, donations, land or interests in land, in-kind contributions, direct costs, indirect costs, and others as determined by the Forest Service. The authority for the program is the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978, 16 U.S.C. 2101, et. seq., as amended by the 1990 Farm Bill, Section 1217 of Title XII of the Food, Agriculture, Conservation and Trade Act of 1990, Public Law 101-624, 104 Stat. 3359, 16 U.S.C. 2103c; later amended by the 1996 Farm Bill, Federal Agricultural Improvement and Reform Act of 1996; Public Law 104-127; Title III, Conservation; Subtitle G Forestry; Section 374, Optional State Grants for Forest Legacy Program. The Forest Legacy Program is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Additional Information: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/private-land/forest-legacy
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