National Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership 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," that is, 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 will: directly connect people to outdoor places, particularly in communities that are underserved* in terms of parks and other outdoor recreation areas and have significant numbers of individuals who are economically disadvantaged; create short-term and/or permanent jobs and/or help stimulate economic development; create, engage and empower members of the affected community in the development of the project; involve and expand public-private partnerships, particularly to leverage resources; and rely on a high degree of coordination among the public, multiple levels of government, and the private sector, to improve recreation opportunities for all.

* 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 redevelopment or rehabilitation would significantly increase the number of people who could be served and/or significantly increase the types of recreational opportunities that would be provided (in a way that could be equated to the impact of a new park).

How it works:

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

Eligible applicants:

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

  1. Political subdivision of the State, that is, cities, 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, meet both of the following criteria:

  1. Must represent a jurisdiction of at least 50,000 people as indicated by the 2010 Census AND
  2. Either be named as one of the 497 urbanized areas delineated by the Census Bureau or be a jurisdiction that lies geographically within one of the delineated urbanized areas.

A list of these areas was published in the Federal Register on March 27, 2012 (77 Fed. Reg. 18652-18669).

For Minnesota this includes:

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.

The project itself should be physically located within one of the urbanized areas. Projects that are not located within an urbanized area boundary are not necessarily ineligible, but may not compete well unless the sponsor can make a compelling case for how the project will serve the target populations, recognizing that access and proximity factor in the scoring criteria.

Level of assistance:

Grants are awarded for up to 50 percent of the total eligible costs. The maximum grant award is $1,000,000 and the minimum grant award is $300,000. The local share can consist of cash or the value of materials, labor and equipment usage by the local sponsor or by donations or any combination thereof. Costs must be incurred and paid for before reimbursement can be made.

Funding for this grant program is provided by the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund. Approximately $40 million is available nationwide.

Funding priorities:

Each state will be allowed to nominate up to four projects to the NPS for consideration in the national competition. In Minnesota, DNR staff will conduct the initial review of proposals for completeness and eligibility requirements; evaluate proposals according to the priorities outlined in the application and the State’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP); and select the proposal(s) to be nominated. Additional consideration will be given to applicants that do not have a current grant award under this program.

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 Selection Notices

Applications are due to the DNR, Division of Parks and Trails by May 29, 2020. The DNR will notify applicants if their project has or has not been submitted to compete in the National Program.

Federal Award Notices

NPS anticipates that preliminary selection of projects will occur by December 31, 2020.

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. 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 Wednesday, May 29, 2020. To submit the application, email a pdf version of the application and attachments 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: