National Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program

Program purpose

The National Park Service (NPS) is targeting projects that provide new or significantly improved recreation opportunities in economically-disadvantaged communities that meet the recreation goals as identified in, and align with, at least one priority of the State's Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). Applicants must be cities with a population of 30,000 or more according to the 2020 Census. The proposed project must serve the specific needs of a community that is severely lacking in walkable, publicly accessible, outdoor recreation ("park deserts"). In addition, the area in which the proposed project is taking place must have a poverty rate of at least 20% or that is at least 10% higher than that of the project city, county, and state rates.

* For the purposes of this competition, for a community to be considered a "park desert," there must be:

  1. No existing parks within a .5-mile radius of the community(ies) to be served by the park (not the radius of the proposed park);
  2. One or two small parks within a .5-mile radius of the community(ies) that is/are not large enough to support the size of the population of the service area, or otherwise unable to provide a variety of recreational opportunities; or some parks but not enough to support the size of the population or otherwise satisfy existing recreational demand; or
  3. One or two existing parks (potentially of adequate size), including the park that is being addressed in this project, that is/are so obsolete or underdeveloped that a major redevelopment or rehabilitation is necessary to be able 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.
  4. Existing parks that are inaccessible to the target community due to physical barriers such as transportation infrastructure, rivers, etc.

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 LWCF Federal Financial Assistance Manual, volume 71, effective March 11, 2021.

How it works

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

Eligible applicants (also known as the project sponsor)

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

  1. Cities with a population of at least 30,000 according to the 2020 Census. Eligible cities with population 30,000 or more.
  2. Counties and special purpose park districts with park projects within or abutting a city with a population of at least 30,000 according to the 2020 Census.
  3. State agencies with park projects within or abutting a city with a population of at least 30,000 according to the 2020 Census.

Multi-organization collaboration is not required for this program.

Eligible projects

Acquisition or development (or a combination) of lands and facilities that will provide outdoor recreation opportunities to the public and are consistent with the outdoor recreation priorities outlined in Minnesota's 2020-2024 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). SCORP 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.

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 $192 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 $10,000,000. ORLP projects must be cost-shared with non-federal funds at a minimum ratio of 1:1. The local share can consist of cash or in-kind contributions of materials, labor and equipment or any combination thereof. At the time of application, the cost-sharing or matching share must be secured or firmly committed with a signed letter from the donor confirming the type (cash, in-kind, etc.) and the amount/value of the contribution.

Costs must be incurred and paid for before reimbursement can be made.

Funding priorities: ORLP program competition priorities

The competition will prioritize the selection of projects that:

  • Provide new recreational opportunities, particularly those that will increase access to nature's benefits, such as green spaces, shady areas (via tree cover), and natural landscapes that help cool the air and reduce urban heat island effects, reduce pollution, and have positive effects on mental and physical health;
  • Empowered and engaged members of the target community in the project development and design of the plans for the park;
  • Create or expand public-private partnerships that leverage matching share resources (e.g., money or donations of land, supplies, or services, etc.);
  • Benefit from a high degree of coordination among the public, multiple levels of government, and the private sector; and
  • Advance goals of, or meet, priority recreation needs identified in numerous local, regional, state plans and/or initiatives.

Selection notices

State application deadline

Applications are due to the DNR, Parks and Trails Division by:
Round 1: Tuesday, December 20, 2022
Round 2: Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Federal award notices

NPS anticipates that preliminary selection of projects will occur by:
Round 1: September 1, 2023
Round 2: January 1, 2024

Project period

Projects cannot begin until a final application has been submitted and approved by NPS and an agreement between the applicant and the State has been signed. This process can take up to a year to complete after NPS preliminary award notices. The period of performance for these grants is typically from two to three years.

How to apply

Please contact program staff to discuss your project and the application requirements prior to completing an application to ensure your project meets eligibility requirements.

Applications are due to the DNR, Division of Parks and Trails by Tuesday, December 20, 2022, for consideration under the first round and Tuesday, April 25, 2023, for consideration under the second round. To apply, leave the application, checklist, and federal forms in Word format, put all attachments into one PDF and email it to [email protected].

The following federal forms can be downloaded from Related Documents on grants.gov:

  • Federal application and revision (A&R) form
  • Federal description and notification (DNR) form

The following federal forms can be downloaded from Post Completion Reporting Forms on grants.gov:

  • Federal disclosure of lobbying activities

Contact information

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