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DNR Seeks Public Input on the Forest Legacy Program

Comment deadline August 24

Annapolis, Md. (July 23, 2012) ─ The Maryland Forest Service has finished updating its Assessment of Need for the Forest Legacy Program in Maryland and is looking to the public for their input on the plan. The Program is a federal partnership that protects working forests ─ woodlands that improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, supply forest products, and offer opportunities for recreation and other public benefits.

“Maryland wishes to continue its participation in the Program to protect State forests, forested ecosystems, and the environmental, economic and societal benefits they provide for use and enjoyment by future generations,” said State Forester Steve Koehn. “Protecting Maryland’s forests will also contribute to the Chesapeake Bay’s recovery, as forests play a large role in improving water quality.”

By working in partnership with states, the Forest Legacy Program supports efforts to protect threatened forests from conversion to non-forest uses. This is a willing seller, willing buyer program, which can provide funds to purchase conservation easements, or when appropriate, full purchase of forests at fair market value from interested landowners.

In 1996, the U.S. Forest Service accepted the State's first Assessment of Need, or application for inclusion in the Forest Legacy Program. Under the Program, Maryland has protected nine tracts with conservation easements totaling 2,014 acres. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Forest Service recently completed its update of the Assessment to reflect the many changes in the State since its initial preparation in 1995.

The forests themselves have changed, new threats have arisen outside of Maryland’s original Forest Legacy Areas, and new, vigorous partnerships in different parts of the State have been formed,” said Koehn. “This updated Assessment takes those issues into account by reflecting changing development patterns and expanding the earlier Forest Legacy Areas to others where new alliances have been developed and/or new threats have come to be.”

The Assessment has been revised to reflect the public’s growing interest in the Program and offers new opportunities for participation. It also incorporates new components into the eligibility criteria ─ the selective measures used to choose and develop Forest Legacy Areas ─ including the area’s green Infrastructure, adjacency to already protected areas, and overlap with other programs’ focal areas for assistance in acquiring/purchasing easements.

“By expanding the Forest Legacy Areas, Maryland is better equipped to continue on its path of improving the health of the Bay, the nation’s largest estuary,” said Koehn. “When the development pressure caused by densely populated areas like Washington, D.C. and Baltimore City is taken into account, there is a clear need for increased and continued participation in the Forest Legacy Program.”

Marylanders are invited to review the revised Assessment of Need and submit comments to State Forest Legacy Program Coordinator: Tim Culbreth, Submissions are due by August 24, 2012.

   July 23, 2012

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at