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Forest Legacy Program

A bull elk stands in a golden autumn forest

Forest Legacy Program

The Forest Legacy Program protects critical forest lands 

Protect your privately-owned forest from conversion to non-forest uses if it qualifies for the Forest Legacy Program. The goal is to protect important forest areas from development and fragmentation and ensure conservation of the important public benefits sustainable forests provide.

Questions? Contact program coordinator Kerry Heckman

How it works

Projects are selected for funding through a nationally competitive process. The process of nominating, applying, being selected, receiving funding and completing all requirements for a project can take several years and requires a high degree of commitment from landowners and partners. In addition to gains associated with the sale or donation of property rights, many landowners may also benefit from reduced taxes.

A project can be:

  • A fee transaction (where the landowner sells the land to the state).
  • A conservation easement (where the landowner chooses to forever restrict certain uses of the land). Conservation easements will restrict development, limit uses that impact the conservation values, and require compliance with a management plan to protect soil, water, biological diversity, recreation, timber, and more.

    Submit 2024 nomination applications by May 3. 

Nomination Application

Special Inflation Reduction Act funding opportunity

A funding opportunity supporting Forest Legacy Program projects is available through the federal Inflation Reduction Act. 

The next period to join the applicant pool for this opportunity will be fall 2024. 

A gravel road winds into an autumn forest, flanked by birch and conifer trees


  • The rights of public access (non-motorized access at a minimum) must be conveyed to the state on all projects.
  • If the conservation easement option is chosen, landowners must prepare and implement a resource management plan.
  • The federal government funds up to 75 percent of project costs, 25 percent of the costs must come from private, state or local sources.
  • For projects involving a conservation easement, an endowment must be established for long term monitoring and stewardship.

Project in development: Michigamme Highlands

The DNR is working with local partners to protect 73,000 acres of high-quality forestland in the Upper Peninsula through a conservation easement. 

Michigamme Highlands project information