US congressmen introduce bipartisan Forest Legacy Management Flexibility Act, which would authorize states to allow accredited land trusts, conservation groups and similar to acquire, hold, and manage conservation easements under Forest Legacy Program
May 6, 2014
– Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA-03), a former Deputy Secretary of U.S. Department of Interior, and Congressman Chris Gibson (R-NY-19), announced the introduction of H.R. 4551, the Forest Legacy Management Flexibility Act. The bill would authorize states to allow qualified entities to acquire, hold, and manage conservation easements under the Forest Legacy Program. Click here to read the legislation. H.R. 4551 has been referred to the House Agriculture Committee, of which both Congressmen are Members.
"Protecting our great outdoors provides enormous benefits for our economy, education, and quality of life. When independent entities demonstrate a commitment and ability to manage conservation easements, states should be allowed to designate them as managers – and this bill authorizes that option. Qualified independent stewardship can save taxpayers money while often offering better management, particularly in lean budget years," said Congressman Garamendi, a former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior.
"The forest legacy program enjoys broad support in Congress and among the land trust and conservation community. This common-sense reform will allow accredited land trusts and conservation groups to hold and manage forest legacy projects, bringing this critical program into line with other conservation programs. This is a competitive program and demand outpaces funding. This reform will allow States, if they choose, to leverage private funding sources," said Congressman Gibson.
"Other federal-state conservation programs already call on land trusts to help implement their programs over the long term through having them hold, monitor, and steward conservation easements, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Agricultural Lands Easement Program and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act," said Laurie Wayburn, President of the Pacific Forest Trust, which helped bring the Forest Legacy program to California in 1995. "This approach encourages additional funding partnerships with the charitable sector as well, given that philanthropies often prefer to give to non-profits rather than undertake what they see as a government obligation. And, many private landowners prefer to work with qualified, non-profit land trusts rather than governmental entities. Enabling Forest Legacy to also leverage this kind of private partnership will make this program even better."
"This very simple legislation, if adopted, will establish flexibility in the administration of the Forest Legacy Program to allow greater efficiency and effectiveness, at no cost to the public. In fact, it will save public dollars. We are enormously grateful to Representatives Gibson and Garamendi for their leadership in introducing this bill," said Peter Paden, Executive Director of Columbia Land Conservancy, which is based in New York.
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What the Forest Legacy legislation does NOT do.