Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust is here to help by administering the grant application process for the Commonwealth’s new Working Forests Initiative Due Diligence Grant Program. This program provides financial assistance to qualified forest landowners who permanently protect their land, and who donate land or conservation restriction (CR) value. This Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (MA DCR) Program covers costs associated with appraisals, title exams, surveys, closing costs, and environmental site assessments.
Certain qualifications for eligibility do exist though, and these include:
1) Own subject land in specific Massachusetts municipalities designated by the New England Governors’ Conference “Keeping Forests as Forests” report. These areas include the Massachusetts sections of the Taconics Partnership, Massachusetts-Vermont Woodland Partnership, Southern New England Heritage Forest Partnership, and Quabbin to Cardigan Partnership (not more than 2 landowners per year may be eligible from the Quabbin to Cardigan region). A map of the eligible areas can be found here.
2) Attend a qualified MA DCR Working Forest Initiative event or a qualified US Forest Service New England Governors’ Conference Commission on Land Conservation Pilot Region event.
3) Conserve at least 10 acres of forested land. In addition, MA DCR must determine that the land contains significant natural resource value.
4) Donate all or part of the appraised value of the land or conservation restriction. The appraised value must be determined by a Qualified Independent Appraiser. The donation must be worth at least 50% of the conservation project’s appraised value or at least $100,000. Projects where 50% of appraised value is greater than $100,000 are only required to donate $100,000 of value to qualify.
5) Be enrolled in the Forest Stewardship Program or Chapter 61 (or Chapter 61A or Chapter 61B if the requirements of Chapter 61 are met). Landowners pursuing a CR who are not enrolled may apply for a Due Diligence Grant and enroll in the Forest Stewardship Program concurrently.
6) The Due Diligence Grant may not exceed 50% of the donated value of the land or CR.
Though the list of qualifications may seem daunting, the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust is committed to working with landowners to navigate the program and achieve a successful outcome. It is important to note that the program reimburses landowners for approved due diligence costs only after the project has been approved by MA DCR for eligibility so it’s important to be sure the necessary funds are available until reimbursements can be issued. Additionally, the project must be filed at the Registry of Deeds before a reimbursement can be issued.
For more information or to get started on a Due Diligence Grant please contact Jay Rasku by phone at 978-248-2118 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. To go directly to Mount Grace’s webpage, click here.