New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced $1 million in grant funding is now available through the second round of the State’s Community Forest Conservation Grant Program. Municipalities can use this funding to purchase land or conservation easements to create new or expand existing community forests and protect land from development.
“Local forests provide benefits to communities including clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, and climate resilience. New York’s Community Forest Conservation Grants are essential in helping municipalities conserve these vital forest ecosystems,” said Commissioner Seggos. “Thanks to Governor Kathy Hochul and the State Legislature’s continued support and record investments in the Environmental Protection Fund, New York State continues to support the ongoing protection of forests of many shapes and sizes.”
DEC’s Community Forest Conservation Grant program helps preserve an area’s biodiversity and safeguards the ecosystem benefits forests provide, such as stormwater mitigation, temperature regulation, and carbon sequestration, which in turn improves a community’s climate resilience. In addition, these community forests will create new opportunities for public access and outdoor recreation.
Grant awards ranging from $50,000 to $300,000 are available for reimbursing the costs to acquire land, including the purchase price, appraisal, survey and boundary marking, title search, recording fees, and attorney fees. A 10 percent match is required. Acquired properties must be 10 or more contiguous acres, have forests on at least 75 percent of the property, be accessible to the public, and provide public benefits such as recreational opportunities, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat, clean water, and forest products.
The Community Forest Conservation Grant Program is part of New York's ongoing initiatives to meet its Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals by increasing the rate of forest protection to keep forests as forests and combat climate change. Funding for this grant program was provided by the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which provides critical funding for environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, recreation access, water quality improvement, and environmental justice projects. Among the many environmental victories in the 2023-24 State Budget, Governor Hochul maintained EPF funding at $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program's history.