COLUMBUS — Woodland owners in 31 northeastern and southeastern Ohio counties can apply to participate in a federal conservation easement program that provides a one-time payment in exchange for voluntarily agreeing to permanently maintain their woods as working forests.
Applications will be accepted through April 23 for enrollment in the Forest Legacy Program, which is coordinated nationally by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service and administered in Ohio by ODNR Division of Forestry.
“Sustainably-managed forested lands not only help clean Ohio’s air and water, they provide income and help support the state’s $15 billion wood industry,” said David Lytle, chief of ODNR Division of Forestry.
“By enrolling woodlands in the Forest Legacy Program, a landowner is able to earn income from a property, while at the same time, ensuring it will be in a healthy state to serve future generations.”
Landowners who enter the Forest Legacy Program must agree to manage their woodlands according to plans developed in mutual cooperation with the Division of Forestry. If accepted, landowners can receive a one-time payment for accepting a conservation easement on their property.
Two regions in Ohio, including six counties in northeast Ohio and 25 counties in Eastern and Southeast Ohio, have been identified as areas that would best benefit. These counties have a relatively large amount of forest cover and a significant number of housing starts.
They include: Adams, Ashtabula, Athens, Belmont, Carroll, Columbiana, Coshocton, Gallia, Geauga, Guernsey, Harrison, Hocking, Jackson, Jefferson, Lake, Lawrence, Meigs, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, Pike, Portage, Ross, Scioto, Summit, Trumbull, Tuscarawas, Vinton and Washington counties.
Only forested properties within these counties are eligible.
Ohio’s forests have increased from just 10 percent of the state’s landscape in the early 1900s to more than 30 percent today. While forest cover remains steady, the number of new forest landowners has increased from 320,000 to nearly 400,000 in the past decade.
“Many of these landowners are buying smaller woodlots that are less than 20 acres in size,” Lytle said. “The Forest Legacy Program is an excellent tool for protecting our highest quality forests from the impacts of this fragmentation.”
Applications for Ohio’s Forest Legacy Program are available from the ODNR Division of Forestry at 2045 Morse Road, Building H-1, Columbus, OH 43229. Applications are online at www.ohiodnr.com/forestry.
For more information, visit www.ohiodnr.com, or call ODNR Division of Forestry at 614-265-6667.