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Funding for Community-Owned Forests

These foundations and programs, along with many others, provide funding for forest conservation, management, and in some cases land acquisition. Local and regional funders, such as family and community foundations and corporations with a presence in your community, can also be good sources of financial support. Your local library also may have good resources for researching grantmaking foundations and corporations and access to databases that require a subscription. Below you will also find directories listing many other funding sources for conservation projects.

Program-related investments can provide financing for land purchases, and community forestry bonds and New Markets Tax Credits are examples of other innovative financing mechanisms for community forests. Finally, several books provide detailed guidance on buying land for conservation.

Federal Programs

Land and Easement Acquisition
Most of these programs require a non-federal funding match, and some require coordination with state government agencies.
Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund Funds projects, including land acquisition, in support of approved species recovery goals or Habitat Conservation Plans for candidate, proposed and listed endangered species. Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Department of Defense Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative Provides funding for the military to work with state and local governments, non-profits, and private landowners to secure conservation easements to prevent encroachment near testing and training areas.

Forest Legacy Program Provides fuding to acquire conservation easements or fee simple title to environmentally sensitive private forest lands. Administered by the USDA Forest Service.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Provides grants to state and local governments for acquisition, planning or development of outdoor recreation sites. Administered by the National Park Service.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) Grant Program Supports protection, acquisition, restoration, and/or enhancement of wetland and associated upland habitats for the benefit of migratory birds and other wildlife. Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Wetlands Reserve Program Assists eligible landowners to restore, enhance and protect wetlands through purchase of conservation easements on wetland areas and up to 100% of the cost of their restoration. Administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Forest Management and Conservation
EPA Clean Water Act Funding The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency makes grant and loan funds available, through state, tribal and territory water quality agencies, to state foresters, private organizations and private landowners for projects to help forest managers protect water resources. See EPA Funds Available for Forestry Projects for more information and examples.

Foundation Grants

Land Acquisition
These foundations may consider requests for land acquisition, in addition to other conservation and management initiatives.
Acres for America A partnership of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Wal-Mart to permanently conserve critical wildlife habitat.

Conservation Alliance Makes grants to protect wild and natural areas, including campaigns for land acquisition, with a focus on recreational lands.

Ford Foundation Supports acquisition, protection, improvement and management of land, forests and other natural assets.

Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation Makes grants to protect lands that contribute to regional ecosystem health in the Chicago area and the low country of South Carolina.

Open Space Institute Funds strategic land purchase through fee simple or conservation easement through grants for projects in the Northern Forest, and loans for projects in New Jersey, the Northern Forest, the Southern Appalacians, western Massachusetts and the Greater Hudson Valley.
Strong Foundation for Environmental Values Makes small grants ($1,000-5,000) in Northern California for projects, including land acquisition, that instill an ecological ethic.

Forest Management and Conservation
The foundations listed below do not fund land acquisition, but they do fund land conservation and management generally and may be able to assist your project with support for certain management or conservation projects.

Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Makes grants, primarily in New Jersey and elsewhere in the Northeast, to support healthy ecosystems and promote healthy, liveable and sustainable communities.

Jesse B. Cox Charitable Foundation

Makes grants to protect and conserve critical natural resources in New England.

Merck Family Fund

Makes grants in the Eastern U.S. focusing on sustainable forestry, support and participation of residents of impacted areas, and protecting ecologically valuable land.

Norcross Wildlife Foundation

Makes grants for equipment, tools and materials to support land protection for wildlife habitat.

Roy A. Hunt Foundation

Makes grants to protect and conserve natural resources and healthy ecosystems, including sustainable forest management.

Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation

Makes grants  to organizations that work in forested landscapes and implement integrated approaches to enhancing ecology, the local economy, and community.

Community Foundations
The Open Directory Project List of Community Foundations lists over 100 community foundations across the United States.

Other Funding Information Directories

Building Better Rural Places Guide to federal agency programs to support sustainable forestry, agriculture, conservation and community development; includes funding, technical assistance and information resources.

Conservation Capital: Sources of Public Funding for Land Conservation From The Wilderness Society’s Ecology and Economics Research Department, describing federal programs that fund land and resource conservation in the U.S. The guide focuses on the East, but the examples are applicable across the country.

Environmental Grantmakers Association

Directory of private foundations and corporations that fund environmental conservation projects.
Foundation Center A wealth of information, resources, training and databases on grantmaking foundations, grant research, and proposal writing. Many of their foundation databases require a subscription, but there are excellent free resources, including a free online course in basic proposal writing.

Funding Sources for Community-Based Forestry Work in the Northern Forest

A comprehensive Forest Service desk guide to grants and funding sources for Community-Based Forestry.
Red Lodge Clearinghouse Resources related to collaborative forest management, including a searchable database of foundations and other funding sources for forest management.

Program-Related Investments

Many foundations, such as the Eddy Foundation, the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundationand the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, make low-interest, high-risk loans to support land and forest conservation. Also see The Grantsmanship Center's Basic Guide to Program-Related Investments.

Other Innovative Financing Mechanisms
Community Forestry Bonds US Forest Capital promotes the use of taxable or tax-exempt revenue bonds for the purchase of forest or agricultural land by qualified buyers.
New Markets Tax Credits Coastal Enterprises, Inc. has used New Markets Tax Credits to finance the purchase of working forest lands for economic development projects in Maine.

Publications on Buying Land for Conservation

Conservation Capital: Sources of Public Funding for Land Conservation
Ann Ingerson. The Wilderness Society, 2004.
A comprehensive guide describing the primary federal programs that fund land and resource conservation in the United States, summarizing both little known federal funding sources and available state and local programs, with a focus on the Eastern U.S.

A Field Guide to Conservation Finance
Story Clark. Island Press, 2007.
A comprehensive book on land conservation financing aimed at local and regional organizations; covers both traditional and cutting-edge financial strategies, outlining tools for raising money, borrowing money, and reducing the cost of transactions; covers transfer fees, voluntary surcharges, seller financing, revolving funds, and Program Related Investments (PRIs).

Conservation Finance Handbook
Kim Hopper and Ernest Cook. Trust for Public Land, 2004.
A guide to generating public financing for local, state and private conservation projects through local, voter-approved conservation finance measures.

Doing Deals: A Guide to Buying Land for Conservation
The Trust for Public Land. Land Trust Alliance, 1995.
A comprehensive guide to buying land for conservation, covering working with landowners and government agencies, surveys, appraisals, and negotiating.
Funding for this project provided by the Ford Foundation and the Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation.
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