Press Release

Welch Leads Call to Protect and Preserve Forestland, Support Local Conservation Efforts 

May 16, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) led a group of senators in calling on Congress to fund the Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (Community Forest Program or CFP) in the upcoming FY25 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. Created in the 2008 Farm Bill and administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the Community Forest Program helps local government entities, tribes, and non-profit conservation organizations purchase forestland for local ownership and management.  

In FY24, CFP received $5.5 million. However, applications for CFP in FY24 exceeded $12 million. Despite increasing demand, funding for this program has not kept pace to support local conservation, boost the economy, and provide recreational, health, and educational benefits for local communities.  

The letter was sent to the leadership of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and was signed by Sen. Welch and Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Angus King (I-Maine), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). 

“The Community Forest Program prioritizes projects that meet locally identified community needs for natural resource protection, forest-based economic development, and public access. Local residents play the lead role in conservation, stewardship, and governance of any lands acquired with CFP funds. This model of locally led conservation has proven popular and effective across America. It is also a program that contributes to national objectives to fight climate change through forested landscapes,” wrote the lawmakers. “We respectfully request that the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee provide $12.5 million for the CFP in FY 2025.” 

Read and download the full letter