The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is funded through the U.S. Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry (S&PF) budget. It provides funds to states to protect working forestlands that are threatened by development or other land uses, either through outright (fee simple) purchase or conservation easements. A conservation easement allows the landowner to continue to own the forest; however, the easement prohibits non-forest uses such as development. Landowners who chose to sell an easement must also have a forest stewardship plan for their property that describes the activities needed to help achieve their objectives for the property; the Delaware Forest Service can write this plan with the landowner. The intent of FLP is to ensure forestlands continue to yield the forest products we use everyday, such as timber, wildlife habitat, and water quality protection. Landowner participation in FLP is completely voluntary.
To learn more about the Forest Legacy program, visit: www.fs.fed.us/
States may only use Forest Legacy funds in areas designated in their Assessment of Need (AON). The AON describes the state’s forests, the threats to the forests, and those areas within the state that contain the most important forests, which are called the Forest Legacy Areas. Once the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves the AON, the state is eligible to receive Legacy funds to purchase land and easements within the designated Forest Legacy areas.
As part of its 10-year update to its Delaware Forest Action Plan in 2020, Delaware updated its Forest Legacy Program (FLP) “Assessment of Need” (AON) to include new areas in the First State to target to receive potential funding from the Forest Legacy Program. The previous AON, which was approved in 1998, included the following four areas: White Clay Creek, Blackbird/Blackiston, Redden/Ellendale, Cypress Swamp. In 2020, the proposed areas for inclusion in the new AON were: Milford Neck, Marshyhope, Central Sussex, Nanticoke, Southwest Sussex, plus the Redden/Ellendale Expansion.
Delaware’s update to the AON required approval from its State Stewardship Committee as well as the U.S. Forest Service, which formally granted its approval on February 25, 2022.
Delaware’s Forestland Preservation Program protects forestlands through perpetual conservation easements. A conservation easement is a permanent deed restriction whereby the landowner still owns the property but certain activities, such as development, are prohibited. The owner can sell the property, but all future owners must also follow the same restrictions. This program is designed to protect working forests; therefore, the easements allow forest management activities, including timber harvests, to continue. Landowners can harvest timber at any time on their property as long as they follow a forest management plan prepared by a professional forester. The program also does not affect hunting activities on the property.
For more information on Delaware’s Forestland Preservation Program, please visit the following links: