Forest Legacy Program: Questions and Answers

What is the Forest Legacy Program?

  • A federally-funded land conservation grant program through the USDA Forest Service

What is the program’s purpose?

  • To protect environmentally important forestlands that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses

How does the program protect land?

  • Through the purchase of conservation easements or the purchase of land

What entity will acquire my land/easement?

  • Land or easements purchased under the program must be owned/held by a governmental entity in Virginia (usually a state agency).

Is the program a way for government to acquire (take) my land?

  • No, entry into the program is strictly voluntary; the land or easement will only be acquired if amicable negotiations result in an agreement to deed language and price.

Are all areas of the state eligible?

  • Only those areas found within the Forest Legacy Area; approximately 16 Million acres (63% of the state)

How much can the program pay?

  • Up to 75% of the appraised value of the easement or the land (using Federal appraisal standards)

What about the other 25%?

  • Landowners are encouraged to accept 75% of the appraised value (called a bargain sale); the other 25% may be considered a donation; check with your tax advisor; sometimes other properties can be included in a project proposal to meet this required match

How do I apply?

  • Visit our website after mid-March; to access materials for the respective year, including the Request for Proposal and the landowner application documents; applications are provided to a Project Advocate; project proposals are prepared by the Project Advocate and are submitted to the Dept. of Forestry by the due date (usually in late-July or early-August).

What happens after I apply?

  • The project is reviewed and ranked at the state level; the top three (or sometimes fewer) state projects are submitted for national review, ranking and selection

When will I know if my property is accepted into the program?

  • Usually by late in the year that follows the year of application

Are there any costs to me?

  • The program usually pays related costs (appraisal and title work, Stewardship Plan); the landowner may need to pay for a survey if the acreage or property lines are not defined well by the property's legal description(s).

Will I need professional services?

  • Many landowners retain the services of a financial advisor to help them through the process; an attorney’s assistance is required for development of deed language acceptable to the owner (either conservation easement or fee simple deed)

Must I allow public use?

  • No, but the public benefits of forested land (clean water, clean air, wildlife habitat, scenic views, etc) will be noted in proposals for the program

What does the program require?

  • A minimum of 50 acres; 75% forested (or a plan for planting trees)
  • Annual monitoring of an easement by the easement holder (a visit to the property)

Who do I contact about the program?

Last modified: Tuesday, 09-May-2017 13:45:38 EDT