WASHINGTON – The U.S. Forest Service will award more than $14 million in funding for projects aimed at protecting over 28,000 acres of working forests. Money comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said funding comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to seven Forest Legacy Program projects aimed at protecting over 28,000 acres of working forests.

The Forest Service, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, manages 193 million acres of public land, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests.

The Forest Legacy Program has conserved over 2.3 million acres of forest lands since it was created by Congress in 1964. It uses earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing channeled through LWCF State Grants Programs. Though the program is set to expire next year without action from Congress,  President Obama has proposed to fully and permanently fund the program.

The selected projects are:

Groton Forest Legacy Initiative, $1,895,000, Vermont for 3,249 acres of managed forestland, rare species, 15 miles of streams and 45,000 square feet of undeveloped lake and pond frontage adjacent to the second largest protected land holding in Vermont.

Windham Region Working Forest, $2,185,000, Vermont, for 6,000 acres of managed woodlands, critical habitat, connectivity to 395,800 acres of the Green Mountain National Forest, and water resources.

Sawtooth Mountain Ranch, $3,000,000, Colorado to maintain scenic vistas and productive timberland, protect habitat for the federally threatened Canada lynx, and conserve 11 miles of tributaries of the Uncompahgre River.

Clear Creek Conservation, $595,000, Montana, for a 760-acre project to provide habitat to protect grizzly bears, provide wood products and recreational opportunities.

Bobcat Ridge, $2,370,000, Texas This 7,000-acre working forest is part of a collaborative effort to conserve lands in and around the new federal Neches River National Wildlife Refuge initiative along the entire river corridor that links 618,000 acres of protected federal, state and private lands.

Carter Mountain Working Forest Conservation Easement, $1,875,000, Tennessee for 4,800 acres of prime developable forest land. 

Liberty Hill Phase I, $2,165,000, South Carolina, a 3,452-acre project provides a unique opportunity to create a conservation corridor along the Catawba River and the northern end of Lake Wateree. The project will protect habitat for fish and wildlife species and the last large block of unprotected lakefront property in Lancaster and Kershaw counties.

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