During this difficult time when so many of you are being asked to do more with less, we have received a bit of good news for park projects in the form of state allocations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The U.S. Department of the Interior recently released the annual apportionment for the LWCF State Assistance Program. This year, the total apportionment was $227 million in grants from the LWCF to all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia for outdoor recreation and conservation projects.
Congress appropriated these funds in February for fiscal year 2020, and the apportionment for each state is determined by a formula that places most of the emphasis on state population. The funding this year is a 57 percent increase from fiscal year 2019, something that was only achieved through your advocacy for the program.
The funds flow through state governments and then — in most states — a portion of this money goes to local governments to provide funding for local parks. These funds help in creating new parks or redeveloping existing parks and public outdoor recreation sites. The LWCF State Assistance Program has strict requirements that ensure projects funded through the program are used for outdoor recreation in perpetuity.
Information on the total apportionment that your state received can be found here.
States use the funds in accordance with their respective statewide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan (SCORP) and have a competitive grant program in order to award the funding to local agencies. If your agency is interested in being considered for these funds, the best place to start is to determine the correct contact for your state.
While we are excited about this funding being released to states, we know that much more needs to be done. If Congress passed full funding of LWCF, we would see a large increase in the funds available — and we would see that amount yearly. You can ask your Senator to cosponsor legislation that would fully fund LWCF, as well as take action on other important legislation, by visiting the NRPA Advocacy Action Center.
NRPA continues to advocate for more support from the federal government for the important work that you do. We are working with our friends and supporters to share with Congress the critical role parks and recreation is playing in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks for all you do — keep up the great work and be on the lookout for more ways to engage with Congress on this important topic in the future.
Kyle Simpson is NRPA’s Senior Government Affairs Manager.