Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants

Land and Water Conservation Fund logoImportant Update for Federal Fiscal Year 2020 

As of October 2020, The National Park Service (NPS) is not yet accepting new Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) applications. According to NPS, the effects of the pandemic have resulted in a temporary inability to appropriately review and ensure compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA Section 106) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Compliance with both of these acts is a prerequisite for grant awards. Because of this, NPS is not authorizing the submission of any new LWCF applications at this time.

The Department of Natural Resources is now accepting preliminary applications through December 31, 2020 for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). These applications will be reviewed internally by DNR after the December 31, 2020 deadline. Selected projects from the preliminary application round will be held until NPS authorizes the submission of new LWCF applications at a future date. This process will allow for selected projects to be submitted as soon as NPS begins accepting new applications. We understand the challenges this may cause for your planning processes; however DNR will work closely with applicants and provide updates from NPS as they are provided.

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.

Kemp Mill Park photo by Margaret Lasher 

Examples of Land and Water Conservation Fund Assisted Grants in Maryland

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park 

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

LWCF-Isabel-Gatewood.pngLocal 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

Application Materials and Other Information

Questions about the grant opportunity may be directed to: Andrew Mengel at or 443-569-2827