PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management announces that applications for enrollment of private forestland in the Forest Legacy program are now being accepted.
The goal of the Forest Legacy program is to prevent the conversion of forestland to non-forest uses and thereby stem the loss of the traditional forest values and uses provided by those forested lands. The most common threats to conversion are from direct development or through fragmentation of ownership of large forested parcels into smaller parcels, reducing the likelihood of proper stewardship.
Under the Forest Legacy program, working forest land is protected through the purchase of conservation easements which require that the land remain in a natural state and cannot be subdivided. The land remains in private ownership but is managed under the guidance of a written forest management plan. Eligible parcels must be privately owned, be greater than 25 acres in size, fall within designated Forest Legacy Area boundaries, and contain significant forest values.
To date, Forest Legacy grants from the US Forest Service have contributed $8,107,900 to conserve 22 properties and 3,583 acres of forestland in Rhode Island. The Tillinghast Pond Management Area in West Greenwich was partially funded with Forest Legacy funds, as were several parcels in the Weetamoo Woods conservation area in Tiverton.
"Generations of Rhode Islanders are able to enjoy the beautiful forested areas throughout the state that have been preserved through the Forest Legacy program," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "These lands are unique and important to the character of their communities, and are of vital significance for green space and wildlife habitats. It's important that we work to protect the remaining parcels of forestland when we have the opportunity to do so."
Applications must be submitted prior to September 27, 2013. The state Forest Legacy Committee will evaluate applications and apply to the US Forest Service for funding to protect priority parcels. Funding for the program is conditional upon Congressional budget approval.
Additional information about the Forest Legacy program can be found on DEM's website at http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/forest/flpinfo.htm. For questions about the program, contact Gregg J. Cassidy, Forest Legacy program coordinator, at (401)222-2776 ext. 4310, or via email at email@example.com.