Funds Released to Protect Private Forests

Program concentrates on conserving working forests.

Private forest landowners are facing increasing real estate prices, property taxes and development pressure, which result in conversion of forests to other land uses. Monday in Vermont, U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell, announced the award of $50 million in grants to permanently protect 24 working forests across 21 states, through the Forest Legacy Program.

The Forest Legacy Program promotes voluntary land conservation by operating on the principle of "willing buyer, willing seller." The program focuses on conserving working forests; those that provide clean water, forest products, fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. This program permanently protects important private forestland 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.

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