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FAQ: Forest Legacy

Q: Can the way the forest is managed, and what it is used for, change after it's entered in the Forest Legacy Program?

Yes. As long as the new use is compatible with the long-term sustainability of the forest, the forest stewardship plan can be amended.

Q: Can I build a house, or make other improvements within the easement area?

No. Any part of the property that you may want to use for improvements should be excluded from the easement area at the time the parcel enters the program.

Q: Will a conservation easement keep my property from being taken for a road or utility project?

No. The property is still subject to eminent domain, just as it is now. It is possible that project planners may make more effort to avoid a "conservation property" but that is not guaranteed.

Q: Can I change my mind and take a parcel out of the program after I've sold the development rights?

No. You will have sold a partial ownership of the property for a cash payment. You may sell or dispose of the remaining rights but the state will continue to hold a permanent easement on the property. Remember the goal of the program is to keep forests as forests; flexibility on this point defeats the purpose.

Q: Does participation in the Forest Legacy Program have any effect on other landholdings I have outside the conservation easement area?


Q: Where does the money come from to buy these conservation easements?

Up to 75% of the money comes from the United States Department of Agriculture as part of the Farm Bill. The other 25% must come from non-federal sources, either as cash or in-kind contributions.

Q: What are the benefits of the Legacy Program?

To the landowner:

  • You receive a one-time cash payment for the development rights without having to give up ownership of the property.
  • You can protect your forest from being converted to some other use.
  • You can continue many of the uses of and gain income from the property.
  • You can assure a permanent green space within your community.
  • Most participants will receive some reduction in state, local or federal taxes.

To the Community:

  • Permanent greenspace is provided in the community without totally removing land from the tax base.
  • Forest Legacy properties can continue to provide outdoor recreation opportunities and forest products.
  • Identifying these areas can help area planners determine community growth patterns and future infrastructure and service needs.
  • Allows future generations to enjoy the social and economic benefits of living and working in areas with a vital forest component.
  • These "quality of life" factors are often important in recruiting high-paying, low-impact jobs to a community.

Q: What are the disadvantages of the Forest Legacy Program?

To the Landowner:

  • Permanent commitment to one type of land use for current and future owners.
  • May reduce the potential future selling price of the parcel.

To the Community:

  • The loss of flexibility in future land use planning decisions may be considered a disadvantage.
  • The transfer of development rights to the state may cause a slight decrease in the property tax base, depending on local assessment. This decrease is most likely offset by lack of demand for services from undeveloped property.

Q: Who decided where the Forest Legacy Areas are located?

The Indiana Forest Stewardship Advisory Council. This is a broad-based committee of about 50 members who are appointed by the State Forester.

Q: What factors were considered in choosing Forest Legacy Areas?

Two broad categories of factors were considered--natural resource values and demographic pressures. The Indiana Forest Stewardship Advisory Council delineated Forest Legacy Areas in Indiana where they felt acquisition of development rights would be most effective in protecting threatened forest values. The Forest Legacy Program is in favor of sound, well-thought-out development that compliments the maintenance of vital, productive forests.

Q: When will the Forest Legacy Program be implemented in Indiana?

Nomination of parcels by their owners will begin in early 1999.

Q: Do I have to let the public use the easement area of my property for recreation?

No. You still control access to your property. The only required access is for monitoring by the Division of Forestry. However, if you choose to make your property available for public recreation as part of the easement, its priority for participation in the program may increase, depending on the local situation.

Q: Will participation in this program make my property more likely to be targeted for acquisition by the state or federal government for public land?

No. You will, however, still be able to offer the remaining rights to your property for fee simple purchase as public or private land if you choose. Attempts to acquire it as public land for conservation purposes may actually be less likely because it is already serving conservation purposes.

Q: Is there a size limit for parcels that can be in the program?

Under the Indiana criteria, a parcel must be large enough to be sustainable as a forest. This varies from area to area but rarely is less than 10 acres. Because of their unique values and scarcity in Indiana, very large forest ownerships (250+ acres) may receive higher priority than smaller parcels with the same qualities.

Q: How much will Forest Legacy pay for development rights?

The rights to be purchased on each easement will be appraised to determine fair market value. In no circumstances can the program pay more than the appraised value of the rights to be purchased. The landowner can choose to donate the rights or sell them at a bargain price, which provides tax benefits. Development rights may also make up a large portion of the total value of a property in areas with high development pressures but a much lesser part of total value in areas with less development pressure.

Q: Can Forest Legacy conservation easement areas be placed in the Classified Forest and Wildlands Program?


Q: Can existing Classified Forests be placed in the Forest Legacy Program?


Q: What can I do and not do within an easement area?

Under most easements acceptable uses include: timber harvesting, firewood cutting, gathering (fruits, roots herbs and mushrooms), hunting, other outdoor recreation (including non-permanent campsites), and production of non-timber forest produces (maple syrup, vines, etc.)

Under most easements unacceptable activities include: all buildings, fencing (except on the perimeter), grazing, mining or quarrying that requires surface disturbance, trash or refuse disposal.

Q: If I have already sold the mineral or gas/oil rights to my property to someone else, can I put the property in the Forest Legacy Program?

No, because this means someone else may already own the right to use all or part of the surface for some use other than forest.

For more information about the Forest Legacy Program, or to receive a nomination application, contact:

Brenda Huter
Forest Legacy Coordinator
402 W. Washington St. Room W296
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Phone: (317) 232-0142
FAX: (317) 233-3863