The Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Program is a new public-private partnership funded through the state Environmental Protection Fund and administered by the Alliance, in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

According to the 2020 New York State Forest Action Plan, “Privately owned forestlands cover 13.52 million acres and represent 74 percent of New York’s forests. 10.2 million acres are considered family-owned or non-corporate forests. Nearly 700,000 private forest landowners provide the public with the benefits of clean air and water, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and a forest-based economy.” The plan identifies some of the biggest threats to keeping privately owned forests healthy and intact as follows: development pressure, inconsistent or lack of professional forest management practices, succession planning, and invasive pests which are often exacerbated by climate change and have the potential to devastate or completely wipe out entire tree species.

Land trusts are uniquely positioned to help private forest owners protect and manage their lands while also educating the public about the benefits of forest conservation to the environment and economy.

The Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Program has awarded 10 grants totaling $2.7 million to 10 land trusts working across New York.

News

2023 grant award announcement

On Oct. 12, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos announced more than $1.35 million in grants to six land trusts to help protect local forests that are key to achieving the state's objectives to protect open space and reduce the emissions that cause climate change. Grant funding will be used to acquire new easements to help keep forests as forests, safeguarding the ecosystem services they provide that include stormwater mitigation, temperature regulation, carbon sequestration and climate resiliency.

Current funding opportunities

The Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Program is not currently accepting new applications. Please check back for future announcements of funding opportunities.

Eligibility requirements

  • Land trust must be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. However, applicants do not need to be members of the Land Trust Alliance to apply for or received grant funding. Non-member land trusts are encouraged to learn more about the benefits of Land Trust Alliance membership.

  • Projects must provide permanent protection via conservation easements consistent with the provisions of Environmental Conservation Law Article 49 that satisfy the minimum conservation easement requirements contained in the Term Sheet in Appendix C. The easement must explicitly run in perpetuity, and the land trust must be the intended long-term easement holder. The conservation easement must be registered with DEC. A Notice of Grant, Appendix F, must be attached to the final conservation easement as an exhibit.

  • Forests (as defined in the Term Sheet Appendix C) must cover at least 50% of the protected property. Lands used for agricultural cannot exceed 25% of the protected property. Sustainable forest management must NOT be a prohibited use (although it may be prohibited on portions of the property, where appropriate).

  • If timber harvests are permitted, they must be conducted pursuant to a forest management plan under the supervision of a qualified forester (as further described in the Term Sheet in Appendix C) and approved by the easement holder (except in limited cases for on-site uses of timber harvested from the protected property).

  • Acquisition must be able to close during the grant period, however, only projects that have not yet closed prior to signature of the Grant Agreement are eligible. It is recommended projects do not close until all required pre-closing items on the Due Diligence Checklist in Appendix B are satisfied as failure to complete them may jeopardize awardee’s eligibility to receive grant funding.

Grant resources

Resource library

Note: The following resources are collected below to help support your application. These materials are for your reference and not required reading. However, pursuant to the Request for Application, your application should directly address the first three items listed below under "State of New York."

Questions? Reach out.

Jamie Brown

New York Program Manager

Jim Daus

New York Forest Conservation Easement Advisor