The Forest Legacy Program provides funding for conserving high value working forests. The program is administered by the U.S. Forest Service and managed in Montana by Fish, Wildlife and Parks. This voluntary incentive-based program operates through nationally competitive grants. Montana forest values conserved by the program include wildlife habitat, sawmill timber and other forest products, public access for recreation, watersheds for municipalities and irrigation, cultural and aesthetic values, and other social and ecological benefits.
The program began operating in Montana in 2000 and has since supported nearly 261,000 acres of permanent conservation, including 243,000 acres of conservation easements and 18,000 acres of fee title acquisitions, the latter managed by FWP as Wildlife Management Areas. The Forest Legacy Program is funded from offshore oil and gas lease earnings through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Additional information about the national program can be found on the US Forest Service's website.
FWP conducts annual solicitations for forest conservation proposals in April with a June submission deadline. Applications proceed through state and national review and ranking processes. Successful projects are awarded funding approximately 2 years after the original proposal solicitation.
FWP adopted a new program Assessment of Need in 2020, which provides an overview of the program’s history and operation in Montana as well as updated priorities, emphasizing wildlife habitat, drinking water, and forest productivity . The AON should be referenced when assembling a funding application. Montana Forest Legacy Assessment of Need.
If you have questions about Forest Legacy, please contact Rick Northrup, Wildlife Habitat Bureau Chief at 406-444-5633.
The Haskill Basin Conservation Easement is a prime example of how the Forest Legacy Program can work in partnership with local communities and organizations to achieve an array of public benefits