Land and Water Conservation Fund Fully Reauthorized; Grant Opportunities Available to Indiana Park and Recreation Agencies
Todd Blevins, Grants Coordinator, Division of Outdoor Recreation, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
On March 12, 2019, President Donald Trump signed into law the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (S.47). Among this public lands bill’s many provisions is permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF program was established by Congress in 1965 and directs earnings from offshore oil and gas leases to enhance conservation and recreation opportunities across the country at no cost to taxpayers. As part of this permanent reauthorization, S.47 also guarantees that a minimum of 40% of the funding allocated toward LWCF each year will go toward the State and Local Assistance program, which provides matching grants to states and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities.
The LWCF program is administered in Indiana by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Outdoor Recreation. Since 1965, Indiana has received approximately $90 million in funding from the LWCF program, over $50 million of which has been provided to local park and recreation agencies. In recent years, funding amounts have increased with the introduction of leasing revenues under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA). In 2018, the Division of Outdoor Recreation received LWCF applications for 13 local park projects and is expected to fund each of these projects, along with two state projects. Total grant funding for these projects will exceed $3.1 million.
A LWCF grant application may consist of land acquisition and/or construction of outdoor recreation facilities for local public parks. Examples of eligible LWCF facilities include trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, splash pads, ballfields/courts, campgrounds, canoe/kayak launches, natural areas and nature centers, support facilities (restrooms, parking, etc.), and more. A single LWCF project may include several of these facilities. All facilities developed with LWCF assistance must be accessible to persons with disabilities. In addition, all land acquired or developed with LWCF funds must remain in outdoor recreation use in perpetuity.
Applicants may request up to $250,000 in matching grant assistance for LWCF projects. Park and recreation boards must have a current 5-year parks and recreation master plan on file with the Division of Outdoor Recreation to be eligible for LWCF funding. Applications for the 2019 LWCF grant round are due June 1, 2019.
Applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss potential projects with the Division of Outdoor Recreation prior to submitting an application. For more information about the LWCF program, visit https://www.in.gov/dnr/outdoor/4071.htm or contact Bob Bronson at (317) 232-4075 or bbronson@dnr.IN.gov.
St. Mary’s Nature Preserve (Decatur)
North Liberty Town Park Splash Pad