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​The development of the nation's forested areas poses an increasing threat to maintaining the integrity of our country's valuable forest lands. Intact forest lands supply timber products, wildlife habitat, soil and watershed protection, aesthetics and recreational opportunities. However, as these areas are fragmented and disappear, so do the benefits they provide. While local governments commonly guide development away from the most sensitive areas through traditional land-use controls (like zoning and performance standards), sometimes these measures are not sufficient to protect the forested component of our natural resource base. The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is a federal program that supports state efforts to protect environmentally-sensitive forestlands.

How it Works

Sun beaming through trees in forestFLP complements private, federal and state programs focusing on conservation in two ways. First, FLP directly supports property acquisition. Additionally, FLP supports efforts to acquire donated conservation easements. FLP-funded acquisitions serve public purposes identified by participating states and agreed to by the landowner. In Kentucky, the Division of Forestry is the lead agency in administering the program. In order to qualify for funding for the program, the Division of Forestry was required to update its Statewide Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy document incorporating FLP into the 2020 Forest Action Plan.   

FLP allows for the purchase of forest land from willing sellers to keep it in its natural state. The state holds title to the forest legacy lands. Priority is given to lands that can be effectively protected and managed.

Who's Eligible

Participation in forest legacy is limited to private forest landowners. To qualify, landowners are required to prepare a multiple resource management plan as part of the conservation easement acquisition. The federal government may fund up to 75 percent of program costs, with at least 25 percent coming from private, state or local sources. In addition to gains associated with the sale or donation of property rights, many landowners also benefit from reduced taxes.

Program Goals and Needs

fall time creekThe goals of Kentucky FLP are to protect environmentally-important forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forested uses and to promote working forests and other conservation opportunities. The working forest concept is defined as forest lands with specific objectives that follow forest stewardship principles. These principles address timber management, wildlife management, soil and water conservation, recreation and aesthetics. The forest stewardship principles are defined by the landowner's goal(s) set forth in his/her Forest Stewardship Plan. A Forest Stewardship Plan is required when a landowner makes application to Kentucky's Forest Legacy Program.  Environmentally-important forest areas shall contain multiple combinations of the following important public values and shall be ranked through a system based on these values. (This list does not indicate or imply an order of importance.)

  1. Scenic Resources
  2. Public Recreation Opportunities
  3. Public Education Opportunities
  4. Riparian Areas
  5. Wetlands
  6. Fish and Wildlife Resources
  7. Native Plant Communities
  8. Connectivity to Other Significant Areas and Other Protected Lands
  9. Known Threatened and Endangered Species
  10. Known Cultural Resources
  11. Other Ecological Values

These forests should provide opportunities for the continuation of traditional forest uses, such as forest management, sustainable timber harvesting and outdoor recreation. At least 25 percent of the total acreage of the landowner's property must fall into a designated forest legacy area and 75 percent of the land must be forested. 

For Additional Information

The Forest Stewardship Coordinating Committee ranks landowner applications by using a Kentucky Forest Legacy Project Proposal Evaluation Form. If you are interested in receiving more information about this program, please contact Chase Terry or download the Legacy landowner application form.​

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