LWCF programs


The four land management agencies within the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture use LWCF funds to protect critical natural resource and outdoor recreation lands from development, to enhance public access for recreation, protect key wildlife habitat, and conserve land and water resources on federally designated and managed lands. America’s network of public lands are not yet complete; LWCF funds are essential to filling in inholdings to ensure continued public use and enjoyment.  LWCF is the primary source of funding that invests in public lands now and for future generations.

The National Park Service (NPS) uses LWCF funding to protect against development, ensure public access and outdoor recreation opportunities, and to purchase private inholdings within our national parks, seashores and lakeshores, and recreation areas; national historical parks and historic sites; national battlefields and military parks; and the national trails system.  In addition, America’s history is not stagnant and LWCF investments support the creation of new historic areas like the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) uses LWCF funding to conserve land, provide public access for recreation, and preserve irreplaceable cultural artifacts and sites within the system of national conservation lands including national monuments, national recreation areas, areas of critical environmental concern, wild and scenic rivers and special recreation management areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) uses LWCF funding for public land and wildlife habitat conservation within national wildlife refuges, hatcheries, and other FWS areas, as well as for permanent conservation easements on working private lands, which protect wildlife habitat in designated conservation areas while keeping working lands in operation.

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) uses LWCF funding to protect land within our national forests and national grasslands. USFS lands and waters purchased using LWCF funds provide recreational opportunities and clean water, preserve wildlife habitat, enhance scenic vistas, protect archaeological and historical sites and maintain the pristine nature of wilderness areas.


There are five separate state grant programs that use LWCF to meet a variety of federally-authorized purposes and provide a flexible set of tools to meet state and local needs.  These include protecting critical natural resource and outdoor recreation lands from development, improving recreation amenities at state and local parks, increasing public access to close-to-home recreation at the state, county and local level, conserving productive forests for economic use and multiple public benefits, protecting federally listed threatened and endangered species outside federal management areas, protecting historically significant battlefields outside federally designated units and protecting the land and water significant to a densely populated region in the Northeast.


LWCF State and Local Assistance Program Administered by the National Park Service, the LWCF State and Local Assistance Program provides matching grants to state, local and tribal governments to create and expand parks, develop recreation facilities, and further local recreation plans.  Each year, funds are distributed to every U.S. state and territory using a population-based formula.  Ranging from active recreation facilities to natural areas, these funds are a vitally important tool to renovate existing parks, develop new recreational facilities, acquire land for state and local parks, and promote statewide recreation planning.  Over its history, the program has supported protection of millions of acres of recreation lands and invested in thousands of recreation facility projects, driven by local priorities and matched with local dollars, to provide close-to-home recreation opportunities that are readily accessible to all Americans.  For more information, click here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/lwcf/stateside.htm

Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) Established by Congress in 2014 and administered by the National Park Service, the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program is funded through the LWCF State and Local Assistance Program. ORLP is a nationally competitive 50 percent matching grant program that delivers funding to urban areas – jurisdictions of at least 50,000 people – with priority given to projects located in economically disadvantaged areas and lacking in outdoor recreation opportunities. These awards help underserved communities address outdoor recreation deficits by supporting projects in cities and densely populated urbanized areas that create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors. 


Forest Legacy Program (FLP) Administered by the USDA Forest Service in cooperation with state partners, the Forest Legacy Program is a voluntary landowner assistance program designed to provide conservation value to working forests in the face of development pressure. Using funds from LWCF, the program provides matching grants – up to 75 percent – to states to permanently protect forested properties through conservation easements or by outright purchases. FLP projects typically restrict development, require sustainable forestry practices, and protect other public values like clean water, wildlife habitat, and public access for sportsmen and other recreation enthusiasts. Now working in 53 states and territories, the program is highly competitive and focuses on projects with strong conservation partnerships. For more information about the Forest Legacy Program, click here https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/private-land/forest-legacy

Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (“Section 6”) The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (CESCF) provides funding to states and territories (as authorized under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act) for species and habitat conservation on non-federal lands. Partners provide at least 25 percent of project costs as a match to the CESCF funding. The Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Recovery Land Acquisition grants under CESCF are funded through LWCF. These programs enable states, localities, and landowners to protect habitat essential to list species as a problem-solving alternative to the regulatory process. The HCP Land Acquisition program promotes voluntary conservation in areas where landowners, states, and other stakeholders have agreed on conservation and development goals. Recovery Land Acquisition grants funds are awarded in support of approved species recovery plans. For more information about Section 6 grants, click here: https://www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/

American Battlefield Protection Program (ABPP) In addition to funding the acquisition of sacred ground within the boundaries of existing national battlefields, national military parks, national historical parks, national historic sites and national monuments by the National Park Service, LWCF helps to protect land outside those boundaries associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and the Civil War through the American Battlefield Protection Program. For more information about ABPP grants, click here https://www.nps.gov/orgs/2287/index.htm

Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) Enacted in 2004 to address the growing need for protection of drinking water supplies in America’s most densely populated metropolitan corridor, the Highlands Conservation Act (HCA) seeks to protect the forested hills running through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania that provide a plentiful supply of clean water to the cities of the Northeast. The HCA authorized funding from LWCF to protect lands with the highest conservation value in the four-state region, providing trails and recreation opportunities as well as safe clean water for the 25 million Americans who live within an hour’s drive.  For more information about HCA grants, click here https://www.fws.gov/northeast/highlands-conservation-act/grant-process.html