Idaho’s Forest Legacy Program (FLP) recognizes that to protect forest values and the benefits of forested lands to society, it is first necessary to maintain those lands as forests. Idaho’s privately-owned forestlands are becoming increasingly valuable and sought after for purposes other than their traditional uses. Unfortunately, the inevitable development of this land threatens all that makes it attractive, including sustained wildlife, scenic and timber values. Idaho’s FLP is a tool that can reconcile the desire of private landowners to capture the value of their lands without destroying the underlying benefits that those forests provide.
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FLP is a voluntary program that, through the purchase of conservation easements, operates on the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle. Lands covered by a FLP conservation easement stay in private ownership and continue to be managed for traditional uses such as forest management.
The FLP provides funding to Idaho to purchase conservation easements on private lands that might otherwise be developed and lost as forests. The program is voluntary and will include only those private landowners who wish to sell development rights to their lands.
For those landowners, participation in the program allows them to capture the development value of their land, while assuring it will remain as forestland forever.
Forest Legacy Program Success Stories
Hall Mountain-Kootenai Valley
The Story Behind McArthur Lake
Western Forestry Leadership Coalition
Frequently Asked Questions
A legal instrument through which certain rights, such as subdivision and development, are transferred from a landowner to a non-profit organization or government agency. The grantee organization does not gain the right to subdivide or develop; rather, it holds those restrictions “in trust” and ensures that no one uses the rights restricted by the grantor. A conservation easement is perpetual and runs with the land. Idaho Code Title 55, Chapter 21 is Idaho’s Uniform Conservation Easement Act.
- Federal FLP grant funds are not tax-payer dollars.
- FLP is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which was established in 1965, in part, to assist states in conserving vital working lands, wildlife habitats and outdoor recreation.
- Each year, a small percentage of royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on public land on the Outer Continental Shelf is deposited into the LWCF account in the federal treasury. The premise of LWCF is essentially to protect one natural resource in exchange for the depletion of another.
- The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) administers the program at the national level and provides grants from LWCF to states to carry out the FLP.
- Meets FLP’s primary objective to keep working forests working
- 75% forested
- Privately owned
- Includes a minimum 25% non-federal match
- Must be within a Priority Landscape Area as identified in Idaho’s Forest Action Plan
- Must be carried out in partnership with another state agency or land trust organization
Projects are evaluated using the following criteria:
- Importance: criteria reflect the environmental, economic and social values the forest provides
- Threat: criteria evaluate the likelihood of conversion from forest to non-forest uses that would result in a loss of forest values and public benefits
- Strategic: criteria reflect the relevance to conservation efforts in a broader perspective (contributes to a conservation strategy and complements other intact forests)
- Projects are evaluated and ranked by a national review panel in Washington DC. The review panel, comprised of 6 state agency representatives and 6 USFS representatives from across the U.S., is tasked with ranking all projects submitted nationwide.
- A conservation easement purchase price is determined by an appraisal which conforms to the guidelines of two professional appraisal standards: the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) and the Uniform Appraisal Standards of Federal Land Acquisitions (UASFLA or “Yellow Book”). Prior to the acquisition, the FLP requires an independent appraisal review.
- Appraisers meet rigorous private and federal appraisal standards, education, and training and must have considerable experience appraising projects of the same type and complexity.
- Federal funds are directly distributed by the USFS to a title company that handles the closing transaction and recording of the conservation easement.
- The federal funding used to purchase a conservation easement cannot be higher than the appraised fair market value.
The State of Idaho
The property is still in private ownership and taxed as such. Current property taxes are not impacted.
No. Project funds are allocated directly from the USDA Forest Service for the conservation easement purchase. No general fund dollars are used for the acquisition, nor are they used to fund administration of the Idaho FLP.
- UI Policy Analysis Group, Issue Brief No. 20 – Review of Idaho’s Forest Legacy Program – March 2017
- Idaho Forest Action Plan
- Idaho Coalition of Land Trusts
- Project Eligibility Criteria
- USDA Nondiscrimination Notice
- Economic Contributions of the Forest Legacy Program – October 2018
- Forester Forums – short informational publications covering various aspects of forest management practices
- Forest Legacy Program – U.S. Forest Service