Press Releases

Kuster Introduces Bipartisan Legislation To Conserve America’s Forestland


Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (D-NH) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Forest Conservation Easement Program Act, alongside Congressman Trent Kelly (R-MS) to promote conservation and keep private forestlands intact and working. This effort comes as private forests face increasing pressure to sell to developers and growing threats like wildfires, habitat loss, and more. By permanently conserving private forestland, this bill will help private forest owners protect their land and ensure that durable wildlife habitats remain healthy for generations. Full bill text is available here


“New Hampshire is home to some of the most beautiful land in the world – we have a generational responsibility to protect our environment for our children and grandchildren. That starts with preserving our forests,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to keep private forestland intact and encourage responsible stewardship so we can enjoy our forests and preserve our natural resources for years to come.”


“I am excited to introduce legislation that creates the Forest Conservation Easement Program. The forest industry employs a large amount of Mississippi’s manufacturing workforce. The FCEP will aid in producing more good-paying manufacturing jobs, supplying wood and fiber for forest products, and protecting wildlife,” Congressman Kelly said.


“The Forest Society strongly supports the establishment of the Forest Conservation Easement Program. We want to thank Congresswoman Kuster for her efforts with this initiative. New England forests have long provided critical benefits, including clean drinking water, wildlife habitat and renewable wood products,” said Jack Savage, president of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. “We continue to lose 5,000 acres of forest annually in New Hampshire. Keeping forests as forests is an urgent priority to maintain our quality of life as we address climate change this century. As a land trust, the Forest Society would be able to conserve more forests more quickly through the Forest Conservation Easement Program.”


“Every year we lose more and more intact working forests to fragmentation and conversion to development. Since 2007 we have lost more than 7.5 million acres,” said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. “The Conservation Fund is dedicated to addressing the threat of forestland conversion and applauds U.S. Representatives Kelly and Kuster for stepping up to provide an important, missing conservation tool to preserve working forests. We look forward to working with our leaders in Congress to get this pragmatic and bipartisan solution included in the 2023 Farm Bill.”


The Forest Conservation Easement Program Act would create a Forest Conservation Easement Program (FCEP) in the Farm Bill to:


  • Protect private forests by purchasing development rights from willing private landowners to prevent conversion to non-forest uses. 
    • Private forests in a conservation easement can remain privately owned and working.
  • Enhance the ability of the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) to conserve working forests at a scalable level;
  • Enhance habitat protection for endangered species and increase carbon sequestration; and
  • Provide landowners with voluntary conservation easement options held by the federal government or by entities and land trusts.