The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has selected projects to receive more than $10 million in state funding for the acquisition of conservation easements for working forestlands. Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements that permanently limits uses of the land to protect conservation values.
The California Forest Legacy Grants protect environmentally important forest land threatened with conversion to non-forest uses. Protection of California’s forests through these grants ensures they will continue to provide such benefits as sustainable timber production, wildlife habitat, recreation opportunities, watershed protection, carbon sequestration and storage and open space.
“The awarding of the 2023 Forest Legacy grants demonstrates CalFire’s commitment to sustainably protecting crucial California forest landscapes for generations to come,” said CalFire Deputy Director of Resource Management, Matthew Reischman. “Working Forest Conservation Easements protect forest values by concentrating on sustainable forest practices that provide economic value from the land and encourage long-term land stewardship, including wildfire resilience.”
CalFire grants fund the purchase of conservation easements and where appropriate, fee title of productive forest lands to encourage their long-term conservation. The primary tool CalFire uses to conserve forest lands in perpetuity is the permanent Working Forest Conservation Easement. A WFCE is an effective, cooperative legal agreement that permanently protects the important natural values of a forest property—fisheries, water supplies, wildlife habitat, and open space — while ensuring good forest management and sustainable flows of the wood products we need.
Eight conservation easement acquisition projects were submitted. In addition, approximately $200,000 is being awarded to land trust organizations to help build capacity for future conservation projects. The $200,000 is part of the 2022 Federal Inflation Reduction Act granted to CalFire through the Federal Forest Legacy Program, a conservation program administered by the U.S. Forest Service in partnership with State agencies to encourage the protection of privately owned forest lands through conservation easements or land purchases.
Feather River Land Trust receives approximately 42.3 million
Located near Portola in Plumas County, the Big Grizzly Creek Corridor Conservation Project will conserve two adjacent working forest properties covering 1,476 acres. The project will fund a fee title acquisition and a conservation easement to expand Sierra Nevada Journeys, a nonprofit outdoor education camp which serves 10,000 campers per year. The conservation easement will limit development and $2,270,000 extinguish subdivision rights.
According to grizzlyranchconservancy.com, “The Planned Development Permit for Grizzly Ranch was approved by Plumas County in 2000 and required formation of an independent third party entity to preserve and protect designated open space within Grizzly Ranch. The Grizzly Ranch Conservancy, a non-profit 501(C) 3, was formed in 2004 to address this requirement and to provide environmental education activities for residents and local outreach. Open space areas at Grizzly Ranch comprise 236 acres of habitat, wildlife corridors, and riparian areas which the Conservancy has responsibility to preserve and protect into perpetuity.
“One of the most iconic features at Grizzly Ranch is Big Grizzly Creek which crosses the development for about half a mile on the west edge of the property. The creek flows year-round, supports a healthy riparian area and provides excellent habitat for fish and wildlife. It originates at Lake Davis and drops through steep-walled canyons to reach Grizzly Ranch where flatter terrain allows easy access for recreation and enjoyment of this clear mountain steam.”
The Lost Coast Redwoods & Salmon Initiative is another example of a project that is permanently protecting California’s forest landscape. This project will permanently protect the headwaters of three sub watersheds in coastal Humboldt County. All tributaries have been identified as key strongholds for federally threatened salmonid species in state and federal recovery plans. Protecting these lands will provide a conservation bridge linking more than140,000 acres of protected lands.
This project ensures 2,300 acres remain in long-term sustainable timber production under easement terms that align forest practices with key watershed and salmonid recovery goals.
Forest Legacy grants were funded through the legislature’s Wildfire Resilience enhancements to the governors budget in fiscal years 2022/2023 and 2023/2024.
CalFire’s Forest Legacy Program plans to release another solicitation in 2024.
To view the full list of grant recipients, click here
For more information on Forest Legacy Grants, visit Fire.ca.gov/what-we-do/grants/forest-legacy.