Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Forest Service will award more than $14 million in funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to seven Forest Legacy Program projects aimed at protecting over 28,000 acres of working forests.
"These investments strengthen each community's economic and ecological base," said Vilsack. "Conserving critical landscapes, like the working forests protected through the Forest Legacy Program, provides opportunities to reconnect Americans to the outdoors and maintain benefits forests provide like clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, while expanding recreation benefits and the economic opportunities they represent."
The Forest Legacy Program has conserved over 2.3 million acres of forest lands, mitigating climate change, improving water quality and protecting and improving wildlife habitat.
LWCF, created by Congress in 1964, provides resources to Federal, State and local governments for the conservation of important lands, waters and historical sites. Using no taxpayer dollars, LWCF uses earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to help preserve our history, protect our lands and strengthen our economy. The LWCF State Grants Program, of which the Forest Legacy Program is a key component, provides matching grants to States to encourage the protection of privately owned forest lands. The Forest Legacy Program is entirely voluntary.
One of the most effective tools for conservation, outdoor recreation and economic growth in local communities, the program is set to expire next year without action from Congress. President Obama has proposed to fully and permanently fund the innovative program.
The projects selected for LWCF funding were included in the Fiscal Year 2014 President's Budget.