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.

Metro Regional Parks and Greater Minnesota Regional Parks are not eligible for funding under this program. Funding for designated regional parks and trails is available from the Metropolitan Council and the Greater Minnesota Regional Park and Trails Commission.

How it works:

The Outdoor Recreation Grant Program 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. A separate application must be submitted for each unique park. Multi-park applications are not accepted. Applicants are eligible to receive more than one grant. For answers to frequently asked questions, click here.

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 be maintained for outdoor recreation into perpetuity.

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 can apply for more than one park and may receive more than one grant. Significant progress must be completed on active projects before an additional proposal can be submitted.

Grant funding available:

There are two sources of funding for the Outdoor Recreation Grant Program: federal and state funds. Federal funds come from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Federal funding available for FY 2022 has not yet been allocated but should be at least $1.5 million for the Outdoor Recreation Grant Program and the Natural and Scenic Areas Grant Program.

State funding available for FY 2022 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 but are subject to Legislative approval. Final amounts available will not be known until after the application deadline.

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 2021. Preliminary grant awards will be announced in the summer of 2021.

Project period:

The project start date will be the fall of 2021 or later depending on requirements for environmental resources, historical and archeological resources, and federal approval, if applicable. All work must be completed by June 30, 2023. Most of our funding does not allow for a project extension beyond this date. Applicants should focus on projects that will be completed during the 2022 construction season.

How to apply:

The completed application is due March 31, 2021. If you would like feedback on your application, please submit it by March 10, 2021. 

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