Land and Water Conservation
The Land and Water Conservation Fund provides funding to preserve and develop outdoor recreation resources, including parks, trails, and wildlife lands.
Congress established the fund in 1965 with the passage of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act that authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to provide financial assistance to the states for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas.
In 2014, Congress established the LWCF Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program, which provides grants to acquire or develop public lands for outdoor recreation in areas with 50,000 or more people, or in areas with too few parks and significant populations of people who are poor, minorities, or young. Each state may submit two proposals for national competition. See the federal announcement.
- Renovating community parks
- Building new skate parks, tennis courts, swimming pools, and trails
- Protecting wildlife habitat
- Building athletic fields
Funding comes from a portion of federal revenue from selling and leasing off-shore oil and gas resources.
Who can apply?
- Local agencies
- Special purpose districts, such as park and port districts
- Native American tribes
- State agencies
50 percent match. For local agencies and special purpose districts, at least 10 percent of the total project cost must be from a non-state, non-federal contribution. Examples of match:
- Appropriations or cash
- Donations of cash, land, labor, equipment, and materials
- State, local, and private grants
- Applicant’s labor, equipment, and materials
Comprehensive planning documents required. See Manual 2 Planning Policies and Guidelines for details.
Grant Cap$500,000 State program
$750,000 Legacy program
Funding Anticipated (Average)$3 million biennially for the state program
Up to $15 million biennially for the legacy program
- Land acquisition
- Development or renovation. Example include:
- Athletic fields, multipurpose courts, playgrounds, skate parks, etc.
- Marine facilities (boating, water access, etc.)
- Campgrounds, picnic shelters
- Community gardens
- Golf courses
- Natural areas, open space
- Shooting and archery ranges
- Ski areas, ice skating ponds, snowmobile facilities
- Swim beaches and pools
- Support facilities such as parking, restrooms, storage, and utilities
- Trails (including interpretive) and pathways
- Vistas and view points
- Wildlife management areas (fishing or hunting)
- Acquisition of:
- Historic sites and structures
- Museums and sites to be used for museums or primarily for archeological excavations
- Land to help meet a public school’s minimum site size requirement as established by state or local regulations
- Areas and facilities used primarily for semi-professional and professional arts and athletics
- Areas and facilities used solely for game refuges or fish production purposes
- Areas to be used mainly for the construction of indoor facilities, except for covered swimming pools and ice rinks
- Railroad hardware, trestles, stations, yards, etc.
- Sites containing luxury lodges, motels, cabins, and similar elaborate facilities, which will serve recreationists with food and sleeping quarters
- Federal surplus property unless legislatively authorized in a specific situation.
- Scholastic and intercollegiate facilities.
- Lands acquired from the federal government at less than fair market value
- Preservation of agricultural land for agricultural purposes
- Incidental costs relating to acquisition of real property or interests such as permits and surveys.
Grant Application Schedule
Generally grant applications are accepted annually. See this year’s schedule.
Grant Evaluation Process (6 months)
- Applicants submit an online application and make an in-person presentation
- Applicants submit an online application.
Long-term Commitments for Funded Projects
All property acquired or developed with Land and Water Conservation Fund grants must be kept forever exclusively for public outdoor recreation use.
Other commitments include ensuring proper maintenance, facilitating audits, providing for nondiscrimination, etc. Further information can be found in Manual 7, Long-term Obligations.
To ApplyLearn the steps to apply for a grant.