Over 18,000 Acres Selected by Forest Service for Preservation as Part of Forest Legacy Program

SALT LAKE – The US Forest Service announced 18,648 acres of private forested lands in Utah will be preserved with an investment of $14.4 million as a part of the Forest Legacy Program. Funding for the projects comes from the Inflation Reduction Act, and the investment will ensure these forestlands will continue to benefit the public and surrounding communities.  

“The funding of these projects is an important step in protecting forest resources for the benefit of the public,” said Natalie Conlin, Forestry Legacy Program Coordinator for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “Each project site is in an area considered highly developable, and this investment will keep these private lands as working forests that protect water resources for downstream users and provide critical wildlife habitat.”

The Forest Legacy Program identifies important forest lands threatened by conversion to non-forest use and works with state agencies and private landowners to conserve them as forests forever.  

“These forests, which were identified by our state, tribal, and non-profit partners as vital to local communities, are critical to the health of our planet and the livelihoods of millions of Americans,” said Forest Service Chief Randy Moore in a press release from the Forest Service. “As private forest landowners continue to face pressures to convert forests, the Forest Legacy program keeps working forests working, ensuring that the most important forested landscapes continue to provide economic and social benefits to the communities that depend on them for their lives and livelihoods.”

The Forest Legacy Program is implemented through grants to states, which work with landowners to conserve strategic working forests through conservation easements or fee-simple acquisitions. 

The two sites selected for conservation were the Coldwater Project in Cache County and the Goring Forest Project in Rich & Cache County.

The Coldwater Project will preserve 15,623 acres of forested land and will receive $10,545,000. This project is a rare opportunity for landscape-level conservation; it ties together an expanse of national forest system lands, a state wildlife management area, and existing Forest Legacy projects within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Bear River Watershed Conservation Area. 

The property provides crucial habitat for several state-sensitive species, including bald eagle, and includes a major elk migration corridor. The project contributes to the local timber industry and offers public access for recreation and hunting. A conservation easement on this highly visible and developable property will protect critical wildlife habitat, sustain local timber jobs and ensure watershed health.

The Goring Forest Project will receive $3,935,000 to preserve 2,725 acres of highly developable private forest within the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. A conservation easement will protect crucial moose, elk, and deer habitat and a critical interstate wildlife corridor. 

The project supports a watershed-wide conservation strategy and collaborative efforts of state and federal agencies to increase the pace and scale of conservation throughout the tri-state Bear River Watershed. The project is 45 mins from Cache Valley and one hour from the Wasatch Front –one of the fastest-growing areas in the country.

As a part of this announcement, the Forest Service also announced that $250 million will be available in 2024 for Forestry Legacy Program. These funds are made available through the Inflation Reduction Act.
For information about private landowner assistance programs with the state of Utah, please visit Forestry Legacy or contact Utah’s Forestry Legacy Coordinator, Natalie Conlin, at natalieconlin@utah.gov.