National Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program

Program Purpose:

The National Park Service (NPS) is targeting projects that will create or reinvigorate parks and other outdoor recreation spaces located within or serving jurisdictions delineated by the Census Bureau from the 2010 Census as "urbanized areas," areas with populations of 50,000 or more people and consisting of densely settled territory. Further, the NPS will prioritize the selection of projects that are located in or are directly accessible to neighborhoods or communities that are underserved* in terms of parks and recreation resources and where there are significant populations of people who are economically disadvantaged.

* For the purposes of this competition, "underserved communities" should be considered as those with:

(1) no existing parks;

(2) some parks but not enough to support the size of the population or otherwise satisfy existing recreational demand; or

(3) some existing parks (potentially even an adequate number of parks) that are so deteriorated/obsolete or underdeveloped that a major redevelopment or rehabilitation is necessary to significantly increase the number of people or user groups who could be served in a way that would be equivalent to a new park.

Please review the National Park Service (NPS) Notice of Funding Opportunity for ORLP program information requirements. Additional Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) information is available in the 2021 Land and Water Conservation Fund State Assistance Program Manual.

How It Works:

The MN Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is soliciting project proposals from eligible applicants and conducting the initial review and evaluation for competition under the National Program. Only the DNR can submit applications under this program.

Eligible Applicants (aka project sponsor):

To be eligible, an applicant must be one of the following:

  1. Political subdivision of the State, that is, cities, towns, counties, and special purpose districts such as park districts.
  2. Federally-recognized Indian tribes that are organized to govern themselves and perform the functions of a general purpose unit of government.
  3. State agencies.

Multi-organization collaboration is not required for this program.

And, in addition, eligible applicants must meet both of the following criteria:

  1. Represent a jurisdiction of at least 50,000 people as indicated by the 2010 Census AND
  2. Be situated within or contiguous with the geographic boundary of one of the 497 urbanized areas delineated by the Census Bureau. A list of the 497 urbanized areas was published in the Federal Register on March 27, 2012 (77 Fed. Reg. 18652-18669).

If the project sponsor is a state agency or a county, the project must be located in an eligible jurisdiction of 50,000 people.

For Minnesota, this includes:

  • Minneapolis St. Paul Area: Includes areas in Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, Washington, Sherburne and Wright Counties. Map of Area (5.4 MB)
  • Rochester Map of Area (1.6 MB)
  • Duluth Area Map of Area (2 MB)
  • St. Cloud Area Map of Area (1.9 MB)

Eligible Projects:

Acquisition or development (or a combination) of lands and facilities that will provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the public. All park projects must meet requirements for perpetual outdoor recreation use.

Level of Assistance:

Funding for this grant program is provided by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Approximately $150 million is available nationwide.

NPS will award grants for up to 50 percent of the total eligible costs with a minimum grant award of $300,000 and a maximum grant award of $5,000,000. ORLP grant projects must be cost-shared with non-federal funds at a minimum ratio of 1:1. The local share can consist of cash or the value of materials, labor and equipment usage by the project sponsor or by donations or any combination thereof. At the time of application, the cost-sharing or matching share requirement must be secured or firmly committed. Costs must be incurred and paid for before reimbursement can be made.

Funding Priorities:

DNR staff will conduct the initial review of proposals for completeness and eligibility requirements; evaluate proposals according to the priorities outlined below and the State’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP); and submit eligible applications for consideration in the national competition.

The program will prioritize the selection of projects that will directly connect people to outdoor places, and that:

  • serve communities that are underserved* in terms of number of parks and other outdoor recreation areas and have significant numbers of individuals who are economically disadvantaged;
  • create short-term and/or permanent jobs;
  • help stimulate local economic development;
  • engage and empower members of the affected community in the development of the project;
  • create or expand public-private partnerships;
  • benefit from a high degree of coordination among the public, multiple levels of government, and the private sector, to improve recreation opportunities for all; and
  • advance goals of, or meet, priority recreation needs identified in the state’s SCORP and other local, regional, state plans and/or initiatives.

The 2020-2024 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) (3 MB) is Minnesota’s outdoor recreation policy plan. 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.

Selection Notices:

State Application deadline

Applications are due to the DNR, Division of Parks and Trails by August 31, 2021. 

Federal Award Notices

NPS anticipates that preliminary selection of projects will occur by April 21, 2022.

Project Period:

Target start date is October 1, 2022. Projects cannot begin until all requested final documentation has been submitted and an agreement between the applicant and the State has been signed. Funded projects must begin promptly after an agreement has been signed. The period of performance for these grants is typically from 2 to 3 years; this competition will favor projects that can be completed in shorter timeframes. Projects will be evaluated for their readiness (i.e., will begin within one year of grant award) and likelihood of completion within the stipulated period of performance.

How to Apply:

Applications are due to the DNR, Division of Parks and Trails by Tuesday, August 31, 2021. To apply, leave the application in Word format, put all attachments into one PDF and email it to [email protected].

Contact Information:

Park grants contacts

Audrey Mularie, Southern Minnesota, East Metro
[email protected] or 651-259-5549

Mai Neng Moua, Northern Minnesota, West Metro
[email protected] or 651-259-5638

You are welcome to contact either Audrey or Mai Neng with questions.

Parks and Trails Division
500 Lafayette Road, Box 39
Saint Paul, MN 55155

Related DNR programs: