If you’re managing a state or local parks and recreation agency and have counted on an annual grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), then you’ve probably been pacing back and forth wondering if this 50-year-old act will be funded again. In researching the LWCF for one of our eCivis clients, I found some background and current status tracking websites to keep you updated on pending congressional actions.
About the Fund and Its Administration
The National Park Service administers the LWCF, which currently funds several grant programs, including the State and Local Assistance Program, the subject of this post. This program provides grants to local, state, and tribal governments for planning, acquisition, and development of outdoor recreation lands throughout the country. The goals of the fund are to:
- Meet state and locally identified public outdoor recreation resource needs to strengthen the health and vitality of Americans
- Increase the number of protected state and local outdoor recreation resources, and ensure their availability for public use in perpetuity
- Encourage sound planning and long-term partnerships to expand the quantity and to ensure the quality of needed state and local outdoor recreation resources
How Funds Can Be Used
LWCF grants are available to either acquire land for public outdoor recreation or to develop basic outdoor recreation facilities.
Acquisition – Acquiring land and water for public access, including new area or additions to existing parks, forests, wildlife areas, beaches, or similar.
Development – Developing outdoor recreation activities and support facilities needed by the public for recreation activities, including providing basic facilities and improvement of basic facilities. Projects must be consistent with the outdoor recreation goals and objectives stated in your Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) and elements of your local comprehensive land use plans and park master plans. Projects must also comply with the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Matching Funds Requirement
LWCF provides up to 50 percent project funding. Eligible matches include local budget funds, donated funds, and the value of property, equipment, materials, and/or labor. Land previously acquired and work completed prior to project approval cannot be used as a match. Pre-agreement design and engineering costs may be eligible, but all other project costs and match must occur within the project period.
Tracking Congressional Actions on the LWCF
Here are some links to track the status of the act’s renewal by Congress:
- The Council on Environmental Quality – This White House website has postings from the Council on Environmental Quality about the status of the act.
- U.S. Congress – This congressional website allows you to enter the keywords in the name of the act and see the status in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
- More About the LWCF Land and Water Coalition – This group has published a report on the 50th Anniversary of the LWCF (2014) that includes an overview of the types of public lands projects funded throughout the U.S. and territories.
- National Recreation and Park Association – This group has published an LWCF Fact Sheet, LWCF State Sheets, and an LWCF Toolkit.
- City Parks Alliance – This group published an overview of local government projects funded.