DEC has opened a third 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 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 and combat climate change. Funding for the grant program is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

“Investments in forest conservation move New York closer to our bold goal of protecting 30 percent of the state’s lands and water by 2030, which in turn protects wildlife habitat, preserves biodiversity, protects air and water quality, and helps combat the impacts of climate change,” according to Governor Kathy Hochul. “Supporting these public-private partnerships is crucial to protecting essential forest habitat and advancing our open space protection goals.”

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 is required and land trusts must be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

According to DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, “Protecting New York’s forests is central to achieving our climate goals, and safeguarding air and water quality, and this $1.35 million investment by the Governor will provide direct support to land trusts as we advance partnerships to achieve our forest conservation goals. We encourage all eligible land trusts to apply and advance the states land protection strategies.”

The program has a two-step application process which includes a pre-application and a full application. Pre-applications are now being accepted and are due by May 10, 2024. For more information about this grant opportunity visit the FCELT webpage.