Land and Water Conservation Fund

Type of assistance: 50/50 reimbursable matching grants

Purpose: The Land and Water Conservation Fund program (LWCF) provides supplemental federal funding for the acquisition and/or development of high-quality, public outdoor recreational areas throughout West Virginia. Assisted or acquired parklands are bound by perpetual restrictive covenants that obligate the project sponsor to operate and maintain the defined project area as a public outdoor recreational facility.

Description: Proposed projects must be consistent with the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). Park renovations, expansions to promote active lifestyles, innovate community cores, attract or retain visitors to an area, develop trailheads or preserve other natural areas to impact community health objectives or develop brownfields renewal efforts will receive funding priority. Additional priority will be made for projects targeting one or more of the project characteristics noted above that utilize a community coalition or consortium approach towards achieving the project goal. Project consortiums can include, but not be limited to, participation in the West Virginia Development Office’s Main Street Program, Certified Development Community Program, or other programs of the Governor’s Office of Healthy Lifestyles, West Virginia Department of Highways, or Northern or Southern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers.

Eligible activities: They include but are not limited to the development of outdoor recreation resources related to the following:

  • Land acquisition for parklands
  • Development or renovation of the following types of outdoor recreational facilities:
    • Campgrounds
    • Picnic areas
    • Sports and playfields
    • Golf courses
    • Swimming facilities
    • Boating facilities
    • Fishing facilities
    • Hunting areas
    • Trails
    • Winter sport facilities
    • Support facilities (walks, utilities, bathrooms, etc.)
    • Amphitheaters
    • Lake impoundments
    • Visitor information centers
    • Interpretive centers

Eligible applicants: Funds are provided to units of local government, independent park boards, commissions, districts and state government.

Contact: For additional information about the LWCF program, please contact John McGarrity or Jim Marshall at (800) 982-3386 or (304) 558-4010.


The Land and Water Conservation Fund Program (Frequently asked questions)

When and how are funds made available? Federal LWCF apportionments to the states are generally announced in January. In anticipation of the apportionment of funds, LWCF proposals in West Virginia are invited first as pre-applications, based upon a late fall notice of the availability of funds to state and local units of government. Pre-applications are screened for eligibility, any necessary evidentiary materials and documentation of the required matching share, with successful candidate projects invited to submit full LWCF applications. Full applications are subsequently evaluated according to the state's Open Project Selection Process (OPSP), as described in the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan. The governor recommends candidate projects to the National Park Service, which makes the final funding decisions. One funding cycle from initial notice to award decision can take six to nine months.

What is required for a pre-application? A federal Standard Form 424 and budget sheet (SF424C), signed construction assurances, a local governing board resolution, a project description and documentation of the required 50 percent local matching share are required. Additional requirements for land acquisition projects require the submission of evidentiary materials consisting of property appraisals meeting federal appraisal standards, a surveyed plat and deed description of the property and a completed environmental assessment. Combination projects involving land acquisition and development can further require completed site plans.

Can an in-kind match be used for the local match? Cash is the typical match for LWCF-assisted park projects. In-kind contributions require extensive documentation and prior approval in accordance with National Park Service criteria. In no instance can the valuation of local donations constitute a profit to the sponsor beyond the amount of cash spent by the sponsor.

Can HUD SCBG funds be used for the local match? Small Cities Block Grant funds can be used for the required LWCF matching share, however, the proposed park project must also meet one of the HUD national objectives and address the other SCBG project administrative requirements.

What are ineligible projects and applicants? Ineligible activities include project administration, indoor facilities, routine operations and maintenance, easement acquisitions or leasehold developments, exhibition or spectator facilities and athletic facilities in support of secondary education. Ineligible applicants include individuals, for-profit businesses, nonprofit organizations and school boards.

How are projects evaluated? Projects will be evaluated according to their recreational value, eligibility, originality with respect to concept and use of other resources, the applicant's history including the locality's maintenance capabilities, any existing unresolved maintenance or parkland conversion issues, competition with the private sector, handicapped access, NEPA compliance and the merits of the project's design as it relates to its completeness, quality and readiness to go to construction.

How long does it take to complete a full application? A 60-day period is normally allowed for the submission of a project package. This is a minimum standard. Factors that can greatly increase the time period include the development of necessary site and/or floor plans, a handicapped accessibility (Section 504) transition plan, an environmental assessment with documentation of clearance letters (State Historic Preservation Office, DNR, etc.) and parcel and/or survey plats of the property. Applicants are urged to start planning early.

What amount of grant award is typical? Total project costs can vary widely from $70,000 to $900,000 (LWCF share: $35,000 to $450,000).