COLUMBUS — Woodland owners in 31 eastern 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 May 15 for enrollment in the Forest Legacy Program, which is coordinated nationally by the USDA’s Forest Service and administered in Ohio by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Forestry.
“Sustainably managed forested lands not only help clean Ohio’s air and water, but provide income and help support the state’s $15 billion wood industry,” said Robert Boyles, chief of the 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.”
The mission of Ohio’s Forest Legacy Program is to protect working forests. Landowners who enter the program must agree to manage their woodlands according to plans developed in cooperation with the Division of Forestry.
If accepted into the program, landowners can receive a one-time payment for accepting a conservation easement on their property.
Two regions in Ohio are eligible for the Forest Legacy Program, including six counties in northeast Ohio and 25 counties in eastern and southeast Ohio.
Eligible counties 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.
Each year, up to three of the top applications from Ohio are selected to compete nationally for Forest Legacy funding. Priority is given to forest land that exhibits exceptional resource values and has been shown to be threatened by conversion to non-forest use.
Since Ohio’s program began in 2005, two projects have received Forest Legacy funding to protect 7,402 acres of working forest land in the state.
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 may also be accessed online at ohiodnr.com/forestry.