Helemano Recreation Area on O‘ahu. Photo courtesy of DLNR

Are you a private landowner, nonprofit group, or local government agency interested in protecting and managing forested lands? The state Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Forestry and Wildlife is seeking new projects for two federally-funded forest acquisition programs: the Community Forest Program and the Hawaiʻi Forest Legacy Program, according to a DLNR news release.

The Community Forest Program offers matching funds to local governments and non-profit conservation organizations for fee title acquisition of forests. Forests purchased through this program are owned by local governments and/or non-profit land conservation groups and managed to provide public benefits, including access and recreation, watershed protection, wildlife habitat, and economic benefits from timber and non-timber products. Forests acquired through this program must be privately-owned land that is at least five acres in size and at least 75 percent forested. Additional information can be found at https://www.fs.fed.us/managing-land/private-land/community-forest/program and applications are due June 29, 2018.

“DLNR is excited to now offer the new Community Forest Program that provides important resources to communities interested in managing and protecting their forest land. This program provides a unique opportunity for community groups, private landowners, and local governments to work together to preserve Hawaii’s forests and leave a lasting legacy for the local community,” said Suzanne Case, DLNR Chairperson.

The Hawaiʻi Forest Legacy Program works with private landowners, state and county agencies, and conservation non-profit groups to protect forests from conversion to non-forest uses and promote sustainable, working forests. This program differs from the Community Forest Program in that it accepts both conservation easement and fee title acquisitions from willing private landowners for forested lands. Most of the Forest Legacy projects in Hawai’i have been conservation easements, which allow landowners to retain ownership of the restricted title to their property while providing permanent protection from development or unsustainable uses. Program information can be found at http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/lap/forest-legacy/ and applications are due August 10, 2018.

“The majority of forest land in Hawaiʻi is privately owned. With the help of land trusts and conservation-minded landowners, we have been able to protect 47,000 acres in the state through the Forest Legacy Program,” Case said. “We are hoping to expand these programs to include additional priority forest areas,” she noted.

Landowners, counties and non-profits interested in participating in either program are encouraged to contact Tanya Rubenstein at the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife at (808) 587-0027 or by email at Tanya.Rubenstein@hawaii.gov to discuss their property and/or interest in the programs prior to submitting an application.

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