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Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Land & Water Conservation Fund supports the development of public outdoor recreation opportunities across Vermont, with a focus on creating parks and open spaces, enhancing recreation areas and facilities, and protecting wilderness areas and forests.

  • Eligible applicants: Municipal entities and state agencies only (e.g. towns, cities, school districts, water districts, park districts, etc.)
  • Grant amounts: Recommended request range $25,000-$1,000,000 – 50% match required
  • Current status: Next round opens October 2024
  • Funding source: National Park Service funds

The Land and Water Conservation Fund Program (LWCF) became effective in January 1965 to create parks and open spaces, protect wilderness and forests, and provide outdoor recreation opportunities. Funds are derived from federal recreation fees, Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) revenues from leasing oil and gas sites in coastal waters, federal surplus real property sales, and a portion of federal motorboat fuel taxes. Funds are apportioned to federal agencies, and to the 50 states and 6 territories through the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service (NPS). In Vermont, LWCF is administered by the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks & Recreation. LWCF grants provide up to 50% matching assistance to the state and local governments.

Project applications are scored and ranked by a project application ranking committee following the Open Project Selection Process (OPSP) using established criteria. The resulting recommendations are reviewed and approved by the ranking committee. All applications must meet an identified need within the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) and address local and regional needs. Municipalities must agree to dedicate the park or area where the project is located for public outdoor recreational use in perpetuity. In addition, the grantee must also agree to develop, operate, and maintain the development to acceptable National Park Service (NPS) standards for public outdoor recreation. Grants are subject to approval by the National Park Service (NPS). 

Applicant Eligibility 

Who is eligible to apply for LWCF grants:  

  • Municipalities (e.g. towns, cities, school districts, water districts, park districts, etc.)
  • State government agencies, other governmental entities (district or local authorities), or tribal governments 

Project Eligibility 

Eligible projects include: 

  • Acquisition of land for parks and public outdoor recreation
  • Development of new outdoor recreation facilities
  • Renovation of existing facilities for outdoor recreation.

Recreational spaces acquired or developed using LWCF assistance must be maintained and remain open for public outdoor recreation in perpetuity. This provision states that “no property acquired or developed with LWCF money shall be converted to other than public outdoor recreation uses without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior.”

Reimbursement, Request Amounts, and Match Requirements  

LWCF is a reimbursement program, and grantees must be capable of financing the project and (after a grant agreement is fully executed) first paying for expenditures and then submitting a request to the State for reimbursement using the required documentation. Applicants must commit to a minimum 50% match, meaning LWCF can only cover half the total project expenses. 

For the 2024-2025 LWCF Grant Round, we recommend submitting projects that request $25,000 to $1,000,000 in funding from LWCF (total project costs ranging from $50,000-$2,000,000).  We anticipate that selected projects will be distributed across this funding range.

Compliance Requirements 

Projects must demonstrate compliance with State and Federal regulations including but not limited to:  

  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)  
  • Endangered Species Act  
  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act  
  • Executive Orders (which include but are not limited to Floodplain Management, Wetlands Protection, Build America/Buy America, Civil Rights Act)  
  • The State’s Permitting Processes  

2024-2025 LWCF Timeline

  • Pre-applications open and complete application materials released: October 21, 2024
  • Pre-application submission deadline: December 13, 2024
  • Full application submission deadline: March 15, 2025
  • Grant application review and selection: mid-March - May 2025 
  • Compliance Reviews: June - October 2025 
    • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act, state environmental permitting, state risk assessment, etc.
  • Project Submission for National Park Service Review: July 2025 - January 2026
  • Grant Notification and Grant Agreement Development: February - May 2026
  • Anticipated Grant Implementation Period: approximately June 1, 2026 through December 31, 2027 (final dates to be confirmed on or before pre-application open date)  


Resources from Previous Grant Rounds (2024 Materials will be posted in October)

Contact Information

For more information about the Land and Water Conservation Fund please e-mail the Recreation Grants administration team at Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation: ANR.FPRRecreationGrants@Vermont.Gov

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