Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has opened the FFY25 LWCF grant round with preliminary applications due to DNR by June 28, 2024 at 5pm.

Municipalities and counties are eligible for up to a 50 percent matching fund assistance from the LWCF. Program Open Space Local funds or Community Parks and Playground grant funds may be used as the match. If using Program Open Space Local funds as match for a development project, please note that county match requirements will apply. The maximum LWCF assistance grant request is $1,500,000 ($3,000,000 maximum total project cost) and the minimum LWCF assistance grant request is $50,000 ($100,000 minimum total project cost). Exceptions may be granted by the Department in certain circumstances based on project applications received and available grant funds.

Upon receipt, preliminary applications will be reviewed to determine eligibility and scored with Maryland’s approved Open Project Selection Process (OPSP). MD DNR will invite those applications with the highest grant score to officially apply for LWCF assistance. In addition, the applicant will be required to sign an agreement with MD DNR, which acknowledges responsibility for compliance with the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965; signing this agreement is a condition for DNR to submit the application to the NPS. The NPS will review project applications, and if approved for LWCF assistance, will provide a project start date. Applicants should be aware that development and acquisition projects must be completed within three years from the provided start date. Only expenditures incurred within the approved LWCF project period are eligible for reimbursement. Grantees do not receive funds at the time of approval. The applicant must incur 100 percent of the total project cost; submit evidence of eligible expenditures throughout project implementation and payment thereof; and request reimbursement from MD DNR after the project has been completed and NPS has officially closed the grant. Expenses incurred prior to authorization of the LWCF grant agreement or after the expiration date are ineligible for reimbursement.

Questions about this grant opportunity may be directed to: Molly Pickel at or 443-223-4302.

Application Materials and Other Information

There are some important dates to note for this application period:

  • May 1 – May 31: There will be open time slots to meet with DNR regarding your proposed projects. These meetings are suggested, but not required.
  • June 28: Pr​e-applications are due to Maryland DNR
  • August 1: Maryland DNR will inform applicants if their project was selected to move forward for application to the National Parks Service.
  • Fall 2024: Maryland DNR will work with selected applicants to prepare all required federal documents for submission.

LWCF Open Project Selection Process Overview Webinar:

April 23, 2024

Background Information

Authorized by the United States Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 established a federally funded program to provide 50/50 matching grants to state and local governments for the purpose of acquiring and/or developing public outdoor recreational areas and facilities. The program is administered nationally by the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service with the supporting revenues generated from offshore oil and gas leases. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is intended to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of quality public outdoor recreational resources as well as to stimulate non-federal investments in the purchase, development, maintenance and protection of these highly valued outdoor recreational areas. Per section 6(f)(3) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, “No property acquired or developed with assistance under this section shall, without the approval of the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, be converted to other than public outdoor recreation uses.”

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is managed at the state level, by the state governments. In order to be eligible to receive a program apportionment from the National Park Service, each state must develop and maintain a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and appoint an official State Liaison Officer. All eligible projects must reflect the states’ policies and priorities of its most current Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan; in Maryland this plan is the 2019 – 2023 Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan.

Municipalities and counties may apply for up to 50 percent matching fund assistance from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. In Maryland, the Department of Natural Resources, Land Acquisition and Planning Unit, is responsible for managing the program, coordinating grant rounds for project funding, and monitoring past project sites for program compliance in Maryland. Since its inception, the Land and Water Conservation Fund program has funded over 400 acquisition and development projects throughout the state of Maryland.


Examples of Land and Water Conservation Fund Assisted Grants in Maryland

Below are a few featured Land and Water Conservation Fund assisted grants. To view additional grants, please consult the LWCF Public Viewer.

State Projects:

  • Development of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center
  • Acquisition and development of Sandy Point State Park
  • Development of Dan’s Mountain Swimming Pool
  • Acquisition of Tuckahoe State Park

Local Projects:

  • Acquisition of Broadford Recreational Park, Town of Oakland
  • Acquisition and development of Bellevue Park, Talbot County
  • Acquisition of Ferry Point Park, Queen Anne County
  • Development in Wills Memorial Park, Charles County