Skip to main content

Forest Legacy Program

The purpose of the Forest Legacy Program [exit DNR] is to identify and protect environmentally important private forestlands threatened with conversion to non-forest uses, such as subdivision for residential or commercial development.

Wisconsin's Forest Legacy Program aims to keep forests as forests by protecting large unfragmented blocks of forest lands that provide the highest conservation value and public benefit, and minimize conversion of forests to non-forest uses through the purchase of conservation easements. Conservation easements convey a "purchased" set of negotiated property rights, while allowing landowners to continue to own and manage their land, including the right to sell.

How it works

Landowner participation is entirely voluntary. A project can be:

  • a fee transaction (the landowner sells the land to the state); or
  • a conservation easement that restricts development and uses that impact the conservation values present on the property while ensuring sustainable forest management.

With a conservation easement, the land remains in private ownership and keeps forests as forests.

Project applications go through a competitive process at both the state and national level. It is important to note that projects may take several years to complete.


Land must be:

  • located within one of Wisconsin's five Forest Legacy Areas;
  • 75% forested or have additional trees planted to meet the forest cover requirement; and
  • owned by someone who is willing to sell or donate the interest in perpetuity.

Landowners must also practice sustainable forestry according to a management plan prepared by a natural resource professional.

Project funding

The Forest Legacy Program provides federal matching funds which are used to purchase conservation easements from willing sellers. Projects selected for funding require a 25% non-federal cost-share, with FLP funds contributing no more than 75% of the project costs. Cost-share contributions can be cash, in-kind services, and/or donation of land or interest in land.

How to apply

Landowners who are interested in participating in the program must submit a complete Forest Legacy application. To request an application and more information about the program, please contact the Forest Legacy Program coordinator. Applications are accepted on a continuous basis.

Send applications to:

Ron Gropp
Forest Legacy Program coordinator
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Division of Forestry
PO Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707-7921

Program criteria and scoring guidance

Only lands within a Forest Legacy Area may be considered for acquisition or easement. Landowners submitting project application(s) are encouraged to review and consider the National Forest Legacy Program Scoring Guidance [PDF exit DNR]. The application follows the scoring criteria that is used to rank and prioritize project applications at the state and national level. While completing the application, be sure to describe the property assets as they relate to these criteria.