Forest Legacy Program

Congress created the Forest Legacy Program in 1990 to identify and protect important forestland from conversion to other uses. It is a is a partnership between the USDA, Forest Service and RI DEM to maintain traditional forest uses by providing funding for the purchase of land or conservation easements to prevent conversion of the land to other uses.


  • Must be within the designated Forest Legacy Area. (See Map)
  • The forested acreage must be greater then 25 acres
  • Compatible non-forest (pasture, cropland, non-forest wetlands) may be included but at least 75% of the property must be forest.
  • Priority is given to forest land that exhibits exceptional resource values, that has been shown to be threatened with conversion to non-forest use, and that is available at below fair market value.

Key Concepts

  • The Forest Legacy Program focuses on protecting the most important forest resources in the state and parcels adjacent to existing open space, those that have key water resources, or are exemplary examples of forest stewardship are most likely to be selected for funding.
  • When conservation easements (the preferred method in RI) are used, the land will remain privately owned. Conservation easements restrict development and require sustainable forestry practices while retaining private ownership of land.
  • Conservation easements remain in perpetuity (even if the land is sold).
  • The tracts remain "working forests" and are actively managed under the guidance of a forest management plan. The forest management plan is prepared by a forester, in consultation with the landowner, and is required to be updated every ten years to reflect changing conditions in the forest.
  • Applications are accepted year-round and are prioritized by the State's Forest Legacy Committee in the late summer. The project selection process is highly competitive on a national level and only the top one or two projects are forwarded to the Forest Service for funding consideration. All funding is subject to Congressional discretion.

If you are interested in more information about this program, please contact:

Brendan Buckless

Rhode Island Forest Legacy Program Coordinator

(401) 222-4700, Ext. 2774310