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Land & Water Conservation Fund

What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund grant program?
Participation in outdoor recreation activities is expanding so rapidly that park agencies often face a real financial burden in attempting to provide enough facilities to keep up with the demand. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was passed by Congress in 1965 to assist eligible governmental units in the provision of new park areas.

The LWCF is a matching assistance program that provides grants for 50% of the cost for the acquisition and/or development of outdoor recreation sites and facilities. Since the program began, Indiana has received approximately $90 million in federal funds. The allocation usually is divided between Department of Natural Resources’ projects and local government park projects depending on funding levels. Over $50 million has been provided to local agencies through the program. More than 30,000 acres of land have been acquired in Indiana with Land and Water Conservation Fund assistance for public outdoor recreation use and conservation.

Where are funds from?
The main source of funding for the LWCF grants comes from federal offshore oil lease revenues.

How is funding received?
Since the LWCF is a reimbursing program, the project sponsor does not receive the grant funds at the time of application approval. The sponsor must have the local matching 50% of the project cost available prior to the application. The sponsoring park and recreation board is reimbursed 50% of the actual costs of the approved project. In order to receive the money reserved for the project, a billing must be submitted to your grant coordinator that enables the participants to request the federal share of the cost incurred throughout the grant term.

What are local sources of funding? Local funding sources used to match the federal assistance may be derived from appropriations, tax levies, bond issues, force account labor, gifts, and donations of land, cash, labor, materials and equipment. Other federal funding sources cannot be used as the local share of a project, except revenue sharing, Community Development Act funds, and Farmers Home Administration loans.

Grant funding amounts.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund local applicants may request amounts ranging from a minimum of $50,000 up to a maximum of $250,000. If any changes are made to the manual/application they will be posted by March 1. Applications are available online or upon request from the Division of Outdoor Recreation. The application is required to be submitted or post-marked by June 1.

Who is eligible?
Only park and recreation boards established under Indiana law are eligible. The park and recreation board must also have a current 5-year master plan for parks and recreation on file, approved at the Division of Outdoor Recreation.

Who administers the program?
Funds are provided through the National Park Service of the U.S. Department of the Interior, but the program is administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Outdoor Recreation.

What types of projects may be funded?
Grant applications may consist of land acquisition and/or facility construction or renovation for local public parks for outdoor recreation. New parks or additions to existing parks may be funded.

The land acquisition or development may not be started until final approval is received from the Federal Government. All land to be developed must be controlled by the park board through direct ownership. Examples of types of projects include:

  • Acquiring park or natural area
  • Picnic areas
  • Sports and playfields, such as playgrounds, ballfields, court facilities and golf courses
  • Water oriented facilities for boating, swimming, and access to lakes, rivers and streams
  • Natural areas and interpretive facilities
  • Campgrounds
  • Fishing and hunting areas
  • Winter sports facilities
  • Amphitheaters and bandstands
  • Trails
  • Outdoor natural habitat zoo facilities
  • Roads, restrooms, utilities, park maintenance buildings
  • Nature Centers

All facilities should be universally designed for persons with disabilities and the Park board’s facilities, programs and activities must be open to the public without discrimination on the basis of race, color, national, origin, age or disability.

How do I apply?
The LWCF manual online serves as the guidelines and application. Please use this document to complete your application. The appendix has all the forms needed to apply.

If you want to know more about the LWCF grant or want to discuss potential projects, contact:

Bob Bronson
State & Community Outdoor Recreation Planning Section
Division of Outdoor Recreation
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
402 W. Washington Street, Room 271
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 232-4075
Fax: (317) 233-4648
Email: bbronson@dnr.IN.gov

Guidelines/applications are available here online for your convenience. If you have any difficulty with this file, contact us and CD or printed versions can be sent to you.

The Division of Outdoor Recreation has guidelines for preparing 5-year park and recreation master plans.