From: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Forest Legacy Program webpage:
"The federal Forest Legacy Program (FLP) (16 U.S.C. Sec. 2103c) was initiated in the 1990 federal Farm Bill. The program recognizes that most forested lands in the United States are held in private ownership and that forest landowners are facing growing financial pressure to convert their lands to uses that would remove them from the forested land base. Much of this pressure arises from the demand for residential and commercial development.
The FLP is a federal grant program that protects forest lands from conversion to non-forest uses. The FLP provides funding for conservation of important forest lands.
Participation in the program is entirely voluntary. The primary method of protection is with conservation easements in which landowners sell a portion of the property rights and retain ownership of the land. The use of conservation easements allows the land to remain in private ownership and ensures that important public values such as wildlife habitat, natural areas, forest resources, and outdoor recreation opportunities are protected. Participating landowners may prefer to sell the property outright in which case the land would be owned by the State and managed as State Forest land."
The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance has a webpage with additional detail on this.
The US Forest Service webpage on the Forest Legacy for the Northeastern Area.