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Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Program

This is a federal program administered in all states that encourages the creation and interpretation of high-quality outdoor recreational opportunities. Funds received by the DNR for this program are split between DNR projects and grants to local governments for outdoor recreation activities. Grants cover 50% of eligible project costs.

Who can apply

Eligible applicants

Towns, villages, cities, counties, tribal governments, school districts or other state political subdivisions are eligible to apply for grants for acquisition and/or development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities.


Eligible projects

  • Land acquisition or development projects that will provide opportunities for public outdoor recreation.
  • Property with frontage on rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries and reservoirs that will provide water-based outdoor recreation.
  • Property that provides special recreation opportunities, such as floodplains, wetlands and areas adjacent to scenic highways.
  • Natural areas and outstanding scenic areas, where the objective is to preserve the scenic or natural values, including wildlife areas and areas of physical or biological importance. These areas shall be open to the general public for outdoor recreation use to the extent that the natural attributes of the areas will not be seriously impaired or lost.
  • Land or development within urban areas for day-use picnic areas.
  • Land or development of nature-based outdoor recreation trails.
  • Development of basic outdoor recreation facilities.
  • Renovation of existing outdoor recreation facilities that are in danger of being lost for public use.

Ineligible project examples

  • A project that is not supported by a local comprehensive outdoor recreational plan.
  • Acquisition and development of golf courses.
  • A project where storm water management is the primary purpose.
  • Lands that include cell towers.
  • Land that will be used for non-outdoor public recreation purposes.


Deadlines and funding cycles

  • Submit completed applications to your regional Stewardship community service specialist by May 1 each year.
  • Department of Natural Resources regional staff review and rate eligible projects in early June.
  • Final project listing is compiled in July with projects ranking the highest selected for grants to the extent funds are available.
  • Final selected projects will be reviewed and approved by the National Park Service prior to the sponsor receiving an agreement with the DNR.


Contact information
For assistance with LWCF grants, contact:
Pam Rood
Your regional DNR Stewardship contact