Forest Legacy

The Program

The Utah Forest Legacy Program is designed to protect and manage, for future generations, environmentally important forest areas that are threatened by conversion to non-forest uses. Conservation easements are used to achieve this goal with priority given to lands which:

  • are threatened by future conversion to non-forest uses
  • maintain forest sustainability
  • protect and enhance water quality and water supplies
  • protect wildlife habitat and maintain habitat connectivity for biodiversity
  • maintain and restore riparian areas, and
  • assist in maintaining the cultural and economic vitality of rural communities

Once key areas and properties are subdivided, fragmented and converted to developed uses, the critical natural resource values are often lost forever.

The program has been operating in Utah since 1999.

The Forest Legacy Program from Peregrine Productions LLC on Vimeo.

Private Landowner Forests

The role of private forest lands in helping produce a sustainable flow of goods and services dramatically exceeds that of Federal lands. Across America, 67% of the forests are non-Federal. The wise use of these lands is critical to the health and quality of human life, for ourselves and future generations. Successful conservation and the continuing goods and services flow from natural resources depend on encouraging sound forest stewardship by private landowners.

Conservation Easements

One method of assistance to landowners is to purchase conservation easements on a “willing seller” basis. Instead of making costly outright purchase of forest land, conservation easements limit development rights. This insures that the land will remain in forest cover while private landowners continue to own, manage and use their lands and natural resources.

Owner’s Management Plan

Accompanying the conservation easement is a Management Plan or Forest Stewardship Plan (FSP) that is drawn up for each specific property. The FSP is written to encourage long-term stewardship by assisting private landowners with the active management of their forest and related resources. It is intended to be an action oriented, working document. The Plan is amended periodically to schedule a new phase of management practices, account for changes in landowner objectives, land ownership, market conditions, or other factors which may not have been present or apparent originally.

Public Values

Conservation easements provide a tool to protect the basic values associated with desirable quality of life for the citizens of Utah. The protection of forest land, watershed, wildlife, air quality and scenic beauty provides benefits to each of us, even though public access is not always involved.

Utah Update

We have compiled an extensive list of qualified properties throughout the state. Landowners in Utah have shown a high degree of interest in protecting and managing their land for future generations.

In most cases, landowners are willing to donate a portion of their conservation easement value to the Forest Legacy Program.

Projects Completed

Working with our partners, the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands has accomplished the following:

  • 74,737 acres protected
  • 26 projects completed
  • $30.8 million spent in Forest Legacy funds
  • $28.1 million donated by land owners
  • $10.8 million matched with non-federal funds 
  • $69.8 million received in conservation easement value


Our partnership with The Trust for Public Land has assisted with the expertise to move forward. Funding support from the Governor’s Quality Growth Commission has supplemented U.S.D.A. Forest Service funding. We have also developed partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, Utah Open Lands, and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. The cooperation and common interests of these public-private partnerships have been instrumental in program success.

Project Applications

The Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands will be accepting pre-applications for the Forest Legacy Program (federal fiscal year 2022) in September 2020. Interested landowners may contact Natalie Conlin to receive a pre-application form.

Please see the US Forest Service FLP website and the FLP Implementation Guidelines for guidance on submitting an application.

More Information

For more information on protecting your private, forested land, please contact:

Natalie Conlin