Natural and scenic area grants

Program documents


Natural and Scenic Area grants

Program purpose:

To increase, protect and enhance natural and scenic areas. This program is established in Minnesota Statutes 85.019. For more information, see the Natural and Scenic Area Program.

How it works:

Provides matching grants to local units of government for up to 50% of the cost of acquisition of natural and scenic areas.

Eligible applicants:

Cities, counties, townships and school districts.

Eligible projects:

Eligible projects include fee title acquisition and permanent easement acquisition. For more information, read the use guidelines in the Program Manual. pdf

Minimum requirements:

Project proposals must have a total project cost of at least $10,000. The applicant must be the intended owner and manager of the property to be acquired.

Level of assistance:

A maximum of 50% of the total eligible project costs not to exceed a maximum grant of $500,000. Costs must be incurred and paid for before reimbursement can be made. Applicants are eligible to receive more than one grant. Significant progress must be completed on active projects before an additional proposal can be submitted.

The program finances projects using state dollars authorized by the Minnesota State Legislature. Typically, the state dollars available are Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars recommended by the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). In addition to state funds, federal funds may be available through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LAWCON). The amount of grant dollars available for distribution each year varies. Applications are solicited in advance of the actual appropriation to ensure that projects are ready to start after the funding becomes available.

Funding Priorities:

The 2014-2018 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) is Minnesota's outdoor recreation policy plan. This plan was developed with the input of Minnesota outdoor and natural resource leaders. It establishes outdoor recreation priorities for Minnesota to assist outdoor recreation and natural resource managers, the state legislature, and the executive branch in decision-making about the state's outdoor recreation system and sets out criteria for awarding grants consistent with these identified priorities. This program focuses on the Strategic Direction, Acquire Land and Create Opportunities in the SCORP Plan specifically identified under Strategic Acquisition.

The project review priorities will assess the natural resource qualities of the site such as endangered, threatened, rare or special concern species or communities, high quality native terrestrial or aquatic ecosystems, ecological viability, outstanding geological or physiographic features, protection of water quality and potential vulnerability to exotic species.

Scenic qualities such as blufflands or other elevated terrain that afford an opportunity for viewing scenic vistas, viewing unique natural features, viewing unique historical or cultural features, and shoreland properties that offer scenic vistas across lakes or streams will be assessed. Other review components include adjacent lands, educational and scientific values, open space and historical/cultural values and local government commitment.

Grant awards:

The Department of Natural Resources will review and rank applications during the spring of 2018. Preliminary grant awards will be announced in the summer of 2018.

Project period:

Projects cannot begin until all requested final documentation has been submitted and an agreement between the applicant and the state has been signed. Project start dates may be in the fall of 2018 or later, depending on the funding available and the project ranking. Funded projects must begin promptly after an agreement has been signed. All work must be completed no later than June 30, 2020.

To apply:

The completed application is due March 30, 2018. Grant application materials are linked below.

Further information:

Grants Manager
Local Grants Program
Department of Natural Resources
500 Lafayette Road, Box 52
St. Paul, MN 55155
Fax: (651) 296-5475