Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants

Land and Water Conservation Fund logoImportant Update for Federal FY20

The Department of Natural Resources is unable to accept new Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) grant applications for this fiscal year. Due to the pandemic, the National Park Service (NPS) does not have the ability 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 LWCF applications for the remainder of the fiscal year. We sincerely regret that we are in this position and understand that this may be unwelcome news to jurisdictions who were expecting to submit projects this year. We hope that you will join us in the next fiscal year to continue expanding recreational opportunities for Marylanders.

MD DNR is able to accept grant modification requests and cost increases to existing projects as long as these changes will not require additional NEPA or NHPA review. Please contact Andrew Mengel for more information:

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 410-260-8461