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Nominate your forest for protection under special round of Forest Legacy Program funding; applications due Dec. 15
November 06, 2023
Are you the owner of a large private forest land area who would like to protect your property while continuing to sustainably manage the timber resource?
Are you a tribal member or employee who is aware of some significantly important forest land that is in need of protection through a partnership with the state?
Do you own a forested tract of land that is worthy of protection and strategically located adjacent to state, federal or other protected lands? Do you represent a conservation organization that is interested in a partnership to protect important forests?
If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then we have an opportunity or you, thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.
Which projects are eligible?
The Inflation Reduction Act included significant specialized funding to protect environmentally important forests through the nationally competitive Forest Legacy Program. Nomination applications for project proposals to be considered for this funding are now being accepted through Dec. 15.
Project categories include:
- Large landscape projects: These focus on large-scale, high-impact opportunities in ecological and economically significant landscapes where a significant federal investment available at one time will achieve a conservation outcome with exceptional public benefits. Up to $50 million per project is available, with an emphasis on projects that contribute significantly to climate resilience, carbon sequestration, habitat connectivity or benefits for disadvantaged or Tribal communities.
- State-tribal partnerships: In this project category, the state works with tribes to identify and conserve lands with high cultural importance and significant benefits for those tribes. Up to $50 million per project is available for acquisition of privately held lands. The state and tribe will manage the acquired property together for long-term stewardship. Special emphasis criteria include meaningful support and involvement of tribes in design, implementation and stewardship of the project; enhancement of the long-term stewardship relationships between the state and tribes, and support to protect cultural resources and/or traditions. Management plans should incorporate traditional indigenous ecological knowledge/practices to reflect joint-stewardship. Proposed projects should also contribute to climate resilience, carbon sequestration, habitat connectivity and the benefit of disadvantaged or tribal communities.
- Strategic small-tract projects: Proposed projects in this category support the conservation of strategic inholdings or properties next to already conserved lands, including strategic tracts that complement previous Forest Legacy Program investments. Each tract will need to be submitted as a stand-alone project, not bundled with other tracts. For the purposes of this opportunity, a “tract” is defined as contiguous land under the same legal ownership. Proposed projects that contribute to climate resiliency, habitat connectivity and the benefit of disadvantaged communities will receive stronger consideration.
In addition to the specific criteria in each project category, all other standard Forest Legacy Program requirements also apply. This includes a requirement that the proposed project be 75 percent forested and managed as a working forest according to a forest management plan and that a minimum of nonmotorized public access be permitted.
All project nominations will be reviewed based on the outlined criteria, which will culminate in a list of prioritized projects being recommended to the Michigan's state forester for consideration. A decision will then be made as to which projects on this list will be submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service to compete for funding at the national level.
For this round of Inflation Reduction Act projects, it is anticipated that a final decision on grant awards will be made in the spring and the funding will be immediately available. Across all project categories, stronger consideration will be given to those projects that are ready to be implemented as soon as the grant funding is awarded.
Visit the DNR’s Forest Legacy Program webpage for more information about the program, to see examples of past successful projects in Michigan and to view the nomination application.
This round of funding through the Inflation Reduction Act is just the first of several Forest Legacy opportunities over the next few years. For more information or questions, please contact Kerry Heckman, resource specialist, at 517-643-1256.