Forest Legacy Program: Questions and Answers
What is the Forest Legacy Program?
The Forest Legacy Program's purpose is to protect and conserve environmentally important working forests that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses, such as development. Led in Virginia by the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), Forest Legacy is an important tool for preserving Virginias forests. Forest Legacy is distinct from other conservation programs in that focuses specifically on environmentally important working forest lands and requires a Stewardship Plan or a Multi-Resource Management Plan (MRMP) meeting the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Program for each tract that will be placed under easement utilizing program funds.
Funded under the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (Amended), 1990 Farm Bill and the 1996 Farm Bill, Virginia uses Forest Legacy funds to purchase conservation easements or fee simple land ownership.
Priority consideration is given to threatened working forest lands which have important environmental values. These values were defined with the assistance of the public, and include such things as the ability of the forest to provide timber and other forest commodities, protect natural communities and special geologic land features, provide habitat for rare, threatened or endangered species, and protect water quality, wetlands, and riparian areas.
What is a “Forest Legacy Area”?
The Forest Legacy Area for the state is a geographically defined area of the state that has high conservation value based on the programís Eligibility Criteria listed below:
- areas threatened by conversion to non-forest use,
- areas important for production of timber and other forest commodities,
- areas of natural heritage resources (natural communities, habitat for rare, threatened or endangered species, significant geologic features), and
- areas that provide watershed values (water quality, wetlands, riparian buffers, groundwater recharge, public water supply).
Virginiaís Forest Legacy Area Map.
What distinguishes the Forest Legacy Program from other conservation efforts?
The Forest Legacy Program conservation easement is unique in that it aims to conserve working forests that are specifically threatened from conversion to non-forest uses, and allows for those lands to be managed by individual landowners as outlined in a Forest Stewardship Plan or Multi-Resource Management Plan (MRMP). The VDOF will provide technical assistance to the individual landowners whose land is accepted into the Forest Legacy Program.
How much will a “participating” landowner be paid for a conservation easement or purchase in fee simple?
Payment for a Forest Legacy conservation easement, or purchase of land in fee simple, is based on 75% of the Fair Market Value of the property, or the easement, using Federal Appraisal Standards. The value of an easement may vary depending on the rights that the landowner chooses to retain or to convey through the easement.
Some of the due diligence costs (title work, appraisal, timber cruise) may need to be paid by the landowner, and may reduce this amount to less than 75% of the appraised value.
Is the Forest Legacy Program “voluntary?”
Yes, entry into the Forest Legacy Program is strictly voluntary.
Will acquisition of an easement grant PUBLIC ACCESS to the land?
NO. Public access will not be sought. However, the landowner has the right to request that public access be granted if desired.
Are landowners required to have a management or stewardship plan under the Forest Legacy Program?
Yes, for properties offered for conservation easement under the Forest Legacy Program, a Forest Stewardship Plan or MRMP, meeting the requirements of the Forest Stewardship Program is necessary. However, if one does not already exist, a Forest Stewardship or MRMP may be developed prior to finalizing the easement process. Landowners are encouraged to contact the Department of Forestry to obtain information on Forest Stewardship Plan standards. Such plans are not to limit landowner's management of their forests, but are to ensure that landowners receive professional advice on how best to manage their forest land to meet their goal(s) and objectives.
Does a tract of land need to be completely forested?
No, but the land must be at least 80% forested to be eligible. The planting of trees on open land to meet this requirement is acceptable.
Who will review applications?
Individual landowner applications will be reviewed by VDOF to determine if the tracts meet the eligibility criteria and state priorities.
Where can I get more information about the Forest Legacy Program?
Larry Mikkelson, Virginia Department of Forestry
Last modified: Wednesday, 06-Jun-2012 16:37:02 EDT