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Says Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Grant program helps protect forests from potential development
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the second round of competitive grants for the Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts (FCELT) Grant program. In partnership with the Land Trust Alliance, a total of $1.35 million in grant funding is available for DEC to award to eligible, accredited land trusts to purchase conservation easements on forested land for the purpose of protecting these lands from future development. The goal of the grant program is to increase the pace of forest land conservation to keep forests as forests, and combat climate change.
"Protecting and managing forests is essential to the state’s efforts to combat climate change, and we commend partners like the Land Trust Alliance for helping to implement programs that protect our vital forest resources,” Seggos said. "These grants are just one tool DEC is using to advance the state’s forest conservation goals, implement the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act scoping plan recommendations, and protect the state’s biodiversity for future generations. I encourage land trusts to apply for these grants and help us conserve New York’s forests.”
Applicants may apply for up to $350,000 to fund the acquisition of conservation easements on forest land in New York state. To apply, a 25% match of grant funding is required, and land trusts must be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
"We must increase the pace of land conservation to help prevent the worst effects of climate change and to make progress on achieving the critical goals laid out in the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Scoping Plan,” said Jennifer Miller Herzog, the Land Trust Alliance's chief program officer. “This new round of funding to help protect New York’s forests signals a strong commitment to protecting the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers and the environment. The Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts program leverages the strengths and expertise of local land trusts and their ability to work with willing landowners to keep their forests as forests. We are proud to partner with DEC to help continue this innovative approach to protecting one of our most important natural resources.”
Funding for the grant program is provided by the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Hochul's 2023-24 executive budget sustains the EPF at $400 million. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.
FCELT grants will further goals/strategies identified in the New York State Open Space Plan, the New York State Wildlife Action Plan, the New York State Forest Action Plan, and/or other local, regional or statewide land protection plans.
The program has a two-step application process, which includes a pre-application and a full application. Pre-applications are now being accepted and are due by May 11. Full applications are by invitation only. Applicants invited to submit a full application will be notified by June 13. Full applications are due by July 28. Complete details about this grant opportunity including eligibility requirements and other program elements can be found on the FCELT webpage.
DEC noted privately owned forest lands cover 13.62 million acres and represent 74% of New York's forests. “More than 10 million acres are considered family-owned or non-corporate forests. These nearly 700,000 private forest landowners help support clean air and water protection, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat conservation, and grow the state’s forest-based economy. The FCELT provides resources to combat leading threats facing the states forests and to keeping privately-owned forests healthy and intact.”
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that “works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America.” It represents more than 950-member land trusts and their 6.4 million supporters nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C., and operates several regional offices. More information is available on the Land Trust Alliance website at https://landtrustalliance.org.