This program can help landowners accomplish their forest management goals, maintain their investment in the future of the forest and pay them for the development values of the property. It may also make it easier to pass the property to heirs.
The Forest Legacy Program is a national program of the USDA Forest Service in cooperation with the states and is designed to prevent the conversion of forest land to a non-forest use. The program uses perpetual working forest agreements on working forest lands to accomplish the program purposes although fee simple purchase may be used in extraordinary circumstances.
Only areas already in forest are eligible for the program although a limited amount of compatible non-forest use is permitted within the working forest agreement area. Terms of the working forest agreement are tailored to meet the objectives of the landowner, agency and the characteristics of the land. Landowners with land under a working forest agreement are not required to allow public access. The landowner will manage the land under a Forest Stewardship Plan and be encouraged to harvest timber and carryout other traditional forest uses. Activities that may disturb the land surface such as strip mining would be prohibited, so the landowner must control certain mineral rights in order to participate in the Forest Legacy Program. Oil and gas drilling may be allowed.
Landowner participation in the FLP is entirely voluntary. The landowner maintains ownership of the land if it is placed under a working forest agreement (a conservation easement). If the land is acquired through the Forest Legacy Program through a fee purchase, the land is then owned by the State of Ohio. Landowners must apply to have their property considered for the program using the application available through this website or by calling 614-265-6667.
It is highly recommended that landowners interested in a conservation easement for their property contact a land trust working in their area. The local representative can discuss multiple options for a property one of which can be the Ohio Forest Legacy Program. The land trust representative can also be of great assistance in filling out the Ohio Forest Legacy Program application. For a list of land trusts working in Ohio and your area check with the Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts.