Outdoor Recreation Grant Program

Program purpose:

To increase and enhance outdoor recreation facilities in local and community parks throughout the state. This program is established in Minnesota Statutes 85.019.

How it works:

Provides matching grants to local units of government for up to 50% of the cost of acquisition, development and/or redevelopment of local parks and recreation areas.

Eligible applicants:

Cities, counties, and townships.

Eligible projects:

Park acquisition and/or development/redevelopment including, internal park trails, picnic shelters, playgrounds, athletic facilities, boat accesses, fishing piers, swimming beaches and campgrounds. All park projects must meet requirements for perpetual outdoor recreation use.

Minimum requirements:

Project proposals must include at least one of the eligible primary outdoor recreation facilities in the Program Manual and have a total project cost of at least $20,000. Support facilities such as restrooms and parking lots can only be funded as part of a larger project that includes a primary recreation facility. Land proposed for development and/or redevelopment must be owned by the applicant or be part of an acquisition project.

Level of assistance:

Grants are reimbursed based up to 50 percent of the total eligible costs. The maximum grant award is $250,000. 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. Applicants are eligible to receive more than one grant. Significant progress must be completed on active projects before an additional proposal can be submitted.

Grant funding available:

The program finances projects using federal funds through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LAWCON). Federal Funding available for FY 2021 is at least $385,000 and may be up to 1.5 million for the Outdoor Recreation Grant Program and the Natural and Scenic Areas Grant Program.

State Funding available for FY 2021 is a portion of $850,000 from “In Lieu Of” lottery proceeds available for three Park and Trail grant programs. Additional state Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund dollars have been recommended by the Legislative Citizens Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) and other state funding may be available subject to Legislative approval.

Funding Priorities:

The 2020-2024 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) is Minnesota’s outdoor recreation policy plan. This plan was developed with public and stakeholder input. 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.

A majority of the review and selection process will focus on guidelines outlined in the 2020-2024 SCORP. Additional review components will assess the design of the proposed project and existing park facilities. Project design should be compatible with the physical characteristics of the site, consistent with generally accepted engineering and architectural design standards, in accordance with accessibility standards and minimize risk to the health and safety of users.

Grant awards:

The Department of Natural Resources will review and rank applications during the spring of 2020. Preliminary grant awards will be announced in the summer of 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. Project start dates may be in the fall of 2020 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, 2022.

How to apply:

The completed application is due March 27, 2020. 

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

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Division of Parks and Trails
500 Lafayette Road, Box 39
Saint Paul, MN 55155