DEC Announces New Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Grant Program
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the first round of competitive grants for the Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts (FCELT) Grant Program. In partnership with the Land Trust Alliance, a total of $1.35 million in grant funding is available for DEC to award to eligible, accredited land trusts to purchase conservation easements on forested land for the purpose of protecting these lands from future development. The goal of the grant program is to increase the pace of forest land conservation to keep forests as forests and combat climate change.
Applicants may apply for up to $350,000 to fund the acquisition of conservation easements on forest land in New York State. To apply, a 25 percent match of grant funding requested is required and land trusts must be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
Funding for the grant program is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). In the 2022-23 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed increasing the EPF to $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.
FCELT grants will further goals/strategies identified in the New York State Open Space Plan, the New York State Wildlife Action Plan, the New York State Forest Action Plan, and/or other local, regional or statewide land protection plans.
FCELT has a two-step application process, which includes a letter of interest followed by a full application. Letters of interest are now being accepted and are due by May 16, 2022. Full applications are by invitation only. Applicants invited to submit a final application will be notified by June 13, 2022, after which final applications will be due by July 28, 2022. Complete details about this grant opportunity including eligibility requirements and other program elements can be found on the FCELT webpage.
Photo: Land conserved on Upper Saranac Lake, courtesy of Adirondack Land Trust