A proposal for a forest conservation easement program in the next farm bill is getting support from “a broad coalition of conservation, sportsmen and working forest organizations and companies,” the Land Trust Alliance says.

The program would "keep forests as forests through the use of conservation easements that purchase development rights from willing private and tribal landowners to prevent conversion to non-forest uses,” according to a letter from groups and businesses to senators asking them to co-sponsor the legislation.

The program would “provide landowners with two proven options for placing voluntary conservation easements on their land, with one held by the federal government and one held by eligible entities and land trusts,” the letter says.

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Those two options are Forest Land Easements and Forest Reserve Easements, both of which would involve financial assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The bill, S.2631, was introduced in July by Senate Ag Committee member Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. The House companion bill, H.R. 3424, is led by Mississippi Republican and House Ag member Trent Kelly and co-sponsored by 11 other members.

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