• March 14, 2022

What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund?

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Program is a federal program authorized by Congress for the purpose of acquiring federal lands and assisting states and local governments with funds to acquire lands and develop and renovate outdoor recreation facilities. Through Fiscal Year 2020, LWCF monies were allocated via Congressional appropriation. With the enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act (Public Law 116- 152) in August 2020, allocation became mandatory at the full authorized level of $900 million per year (although Congress stipulated a final say in the amounts directed to each program or activity supported by the LWCF.)  The funds are appropriated by Congress to the U. S. Department of the Interior, National Parks Service (NPS), and NPS allocates the funds through state agencies as a grant program to state and local governments.  

The LWCF grant program provides funding for acquisition of park land, development of outdoor recreation facilities and renovation of existing outdoor recreation facilities from eligible applicants.  Eligible applicants are defined by the state within the LWCF guidance, and typically include qualified local governments and constituted recreation authorities/commissions.  Check with your state grant coordinator for specific eligibility requirements. All eligible applicants must complete an application to their state agency under their program requirements.

The three primary goals of the LWCF State Assistance Program are to:

  1. Meet State and locally identified public outdoor recreation resource needs to strengthen the health and vitality of the American people.
  2. Increase the number of protected State and local outdoor recreation resources and to ensure their availability for public use in perpetuity.
  3. Encourage sound planning and long-term partnerships to expand the quantity and to ensure the quality of needed State and local outdoor recreation resources.

The LWCF State Assistance Program provides matching grants to States, and from the States to local governments, for the acquisition and development/ redevelopment of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. Planning grants are also available to the States to assist in the development of Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plans (SCORP).

The LWCF Act requires the States to operate and maintain by acceptable standards the properties or facilities acquired or developed for public outdoor recreation use.

Other notes:

  • LWCF requires a minimum 1:1 match for all grant requests.
  • Contact your state grant coordinator for program guidance including, application timeframes, grant limits and eligibility.
  • Any property using LWCF funds must remain open to outdoor recreation in perpetuity.

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