Main Menu


Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Land and Water Conservation Fund Act was established by Congress in 1965, thereby creating a federal reimbursement grant program for the acquisition and/or development of public outdoor recreation areas. Federal oversight of the program is provided by the National Park Service; however, the program is administered locally by the State of Utah, through Utah State Parks and Recreation. Any site/facility that is purchased, developed, or improved with funding from this grant is protected in perpetuity (forever) as a public outdoor recreation area.

Since its inception, the LWCF program has funded more than 450 projects in Utah totaling more than $48 million in assistance. The LWCF is a 50-50 matching reimbursement program. The grant recipient must be able to fund 100 percent of the project while seeking periodic reimbursements for eligible expenses from the program.

Interactive GIS Map of Project Locations

The 2015 grant application process is now open. All grants must be delivered or postmarked on or before May 1, 2015.

Application and Evaluation Process:

Eligible Recipients:

  • Local Governments - Counties, Cities, and Towns
  • Tribal Governments
  • State Agencies

LWCF applications are the first stage of a competitive process. All applications are reviewed and the projects are ranked through an evaluation process that has been cooperatively developed by the state and the National Park Service.

Proposals are evaluated on:

  • How well the project addresses an outdoor recreation need identified in the 2009 Utah State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP).
  • Application completeness
  • Technical merits
  • Previous recreation program performance
  • Project readiness
  • Availability of local funding
  • Site visit/inspection

The highest scoring projects are invited to begin the second phase of the selection process, which includes the final environmental screening process and nomination for approval to the Board of Utah State Parks and Recreation. If the applicant successfully completes the second phase, their project may become a potential selection for recommendation to the National Park Service for their approval.

Program Coordinator: Susan Zarekarizi

  • LWCF

    Acceptance of an LWCF grant agreement with Utah State Parks requires the recipient/sponsor to assume the responsibility for compliance with LWCF Act, any and all program requirements, and applicable state and local laws. In signing the contract with Utah State Parks, the sponsor accepts the responsibility for compliance and the consequences of non-compliance.

    Once a public outdoor recreation site, always a public outdoor recreation site.

    Any site that has been acquired, developed, or improved, no matter how small the improvement, with funds from the LWCF grant program, must be open to the public and maintained in perpetuity (forever) for public outdoor recreation.

    The LWCF requires a 6F boundary map of the recreation site.

    This map determines the area bound by the LWCF grant requirements outlined here and in your contract with Utah State Parks. All property and facilities contained within the 6F boundary map must not be converted from public outdoor recreation. The project must be maintained as originally intended and large changes to the use or functionality must be approved by Utah State Parks and the NPS. Conversions of use are to be avoided whenever possible. Conversions are not a right and must be approved by Utah State Parks and the NPS. The Conversion of Use Process is used to request approval from the NPS.

    Environmental, Historical, and Cultural Studies

    As part of the application or conversion process, all projects must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Historic Preservation Act. Projects must include analysis of potential impacts on environmental and historic resources. Project sponsors and applicants should review the Proposal Description and Environmental Screening Form (PD-ESF) for resources to be investigated for potential impact. For all conversions, the sponsor is required to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) document for NEPA compliance. Keep in mind if a conversion or project is controversial or contains major impacts to the environment or cultural resources, the sponsor may be required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

    Project must comply with the Civil Rights Act and Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Overhead Power Lines

    All overhead lines (power, cable or communication) must be installed underground. Existing lines must be buried, removed or relocated and future lines must be installed underground.

    Public Comment

    All proposals are required to have solicited public comment before recommendation to the Utah State Parks Board. If an application is received that has not undergone a public comment period and/or hearing, it will be scored lower during the initial project ranking. Examples of public comment are the official minutes of a commission or council meeting, a planning document that includes the site specifically identified and any public comments associated with the site, or the minutes of an actual public hearing on the proposed facility.

    Procurement, Contracts, and Bidding

    Sponsors receiving federal LWCF assistance must comply with all applicable local, state and federal requirements regarding contracts and bidding. This includes, but is not limited to, compliance with Utah's public procurement laws and procedures, administrative requirements for grants and cooperative agreements to state and local governments, any administrative and audit requirements and cost principles for assistance programs, Department of Interior cost principles for state and local governments, audits of state and local governments as these relate to the application and acceptance/use of federal funds for assistance.

    Quarterly Reports

    All grantees are required to submit quarterly reports on the grantees' progress toward completion of the grant project.

    Expenditure Documentation

    Invoices and proof of payment for eligible reimbursable items must be submitted with all reimbursement requests. Only expenditures incurred within the approved LWCF project period are eligible for reimbursement. Expenses incurred prior to authorization of the LWCF grant agreement or after the expiration date are ineligible for reimbursement.

    LWCF Acknowledgement Sign

    LWCF requires that all recreation areas assisted by the program post a sign acknowledging LWCF assistance. The sign must be posted in a prominent public area visible to all visitors. If the facility is located in an area where excessive tagging or graffiti preclude the use of a sign, the sponsor may add the logo and acknowledgement to their recreation website. Contact the LWCF grant coordinator for NPS requirements and official logo.

    Retention of Records

    All documents related to the LWCF project should be retained in perpetuity. These papers include project agreements, correspondence, deeds, as-built plans, inquiries regarding proposed changes at the park, Section 6F boundary map, and grant application materials. Also, all financial records and documents used for verifying your reimbursement, including bid information, must be retained for a period of three years with the following qualifications:

    • If any litigation, claim, or audit is started prior to the expiration of the three years, the records shall be retained until all such actions have been resolved.
    • Records for non-expendable property acquired with fund assistance shall be retained three years after its final disposition.

    Operation and Use

    All LWCF assisted areas must be open to the public during reasonable hours of operation. Hours of operation should be determined according to the type of area or facility being operated and in relation to the season.


    LWCF assisted properties must receive regular maintenance to ensure continuing public use in a safe and sanitary manner.


    Reasonable user fees may be charged by the sponsor to offset operation and maintenance costs. Sponsors may charge a higher fee to non-residents as long as the higher fee is realistic, comparable to what is charged at other local parks and does not preclude use by non-residents and is no more than twice the residential fee.


    Inspections are regularly performed on LWCF assisted areas to monitor the project sponsor's compliance with program requirements. Recreation areas found in non-compliance will be notified in writing of the problems and a timeframe for remediation. In cases, where inspections discover conversions of use, Utah State Parks will provide direction to the sponsor on the Conversion of Use Process and a timeframe for initiation.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    What are examples of eligible LWCF grant projects?

    The LWCF may be used to develop outdoor recreation facilities including, but not limited to: ball fields, sports courts, spray parks, golf courses, public restrooms, swimming pools, skate parks, and walking trails. Land acquisitions for public outdoor recreation are also eligible for LWCF.

    Who may apply?

    Any political subdivision of the state or sovereign Indian Nation is eligible to receive LWCF grants.

    What is the required match?

    The LWCF grant is a 50-50 matching reimbursement program. A project sponsor must make full payment on all project expenses and submit documentation of the eligible expenditures and reimbursement request to the LWCF grant coordinator.

    When do you receive your federal funding and how much funding is available?

    The LWCF is a federal grants program contingent upon an appropriation from Congress. Funding is usually made available in spring of each year. In 2010, Utah’s appropriation was approximately $480,000.

    Does the local or state government need to own the land before they can receive a development grant?

    Yes, proof of ownership is one of the requirements for grant selection.

    What are the long-term commitments required by the LWCF program?

    Properties acquired, developed, or improved must be retained in perpetuity (forever) for public outdoor recreation.

    • Once an LWCF grant is used to develop or acquire a recreation site, no part of the site however small may be converted to any other use.
    • No commercial facilities, buildings, or any other use that excludes outdoor public recreation may occupy land and facilities encumbered by LWCF. Examples – cell towers, community centers, new roads/highways, fire stations, and city offices. Access to the project site must be on publicly-owned roads and roads must meet all applicable engineering and safety standards. Applicant must have funds to operate and maintain the area after the project is complete. Funding for ongoing maintenance is not available.

    What is a 6F boundary map?

    The 6F boundary is the area being protected in perpetuity by Section 6 (f) (3) of the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965. The 6F boundary ensures the project area provided by the sponsor is a viable recreation unit. The map is the record used by the National Park Service and the LWCF grant coordinator to record the outdoor recreation site and/or facilities encumbered by 6F funds.

    What is a letter of commitment?

    This is a letter from a willing donor of the property, materials, funding, or services stating their intent/commitment to donate to the project sponsor.

    Can I use land already owned by the city or town as a match for a LWCF grant?


    Who administers the LWCF program?

    The National Park Service provides federal oversight for the grant program. The State of Utah, by and through Utah State Parks and Recreation, administers the LWCF stateside program for the National Park Service.

    Can I close a LWCF encumbered facility during the off-season?

    No. The park facility must be open during reasonable hours for public use. Some exceptions include holidays and dangerous field conditions.

    What do you mean by site inspections?

    Every five years, the program coordinator will physically inspect your LWCF facility for compliance with program requirements. Recreation areas found in non-compliance will be notified in writing of the problems and given a timeframe for remediation. Once an LWCF grant is used to develop or acquire a recreation site, then no part of the site, however small, may be converted to any other use. If a conversion of use is discovered on the site, the LWCF grant coordinator will provide the sponsor direction on the conversion of use process and a timeframe for initiating the process. The project sponsor is responsible for all required costs, documentation, and replacement of converted land and facilities.

  • Conversion of Use

    Conversion of Use

    Section 6(f) (3) of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965 requires all property acquired, developed or improved with assistance from the LWCF grant program shall be retained and used for public outdoor recreation in perpetuity (forever). A conversion of use occurs when a site identified by the 6F boundary map is wholly or partially converted to a use other than public outdoor recreation without the approval of the National Park Service (NPS).

    Examples of Conversion of Use:

    • Property interests are conveyed to private parties.
    • Non-outdoor recreation uses, public or private, are located within the project area.
    • Examples may include, but are not limited to:
    • Fire stations
    • City offices
    • Community centers
    • Private office space
    • Housing
    • Enclosed park facilities not approved by the NPS
    • Commercial use
    • Roads not approved in the original grant
    • Closure of public access to LWCF area
    • Property acquired by LWCF is never developed for the purposes outlined in the acquisition grant agreement
    • Cell towers


    Situations that may not trigger a Conversion of Use:

    • Underground utility easements that do not impact or preclude the surface recreation use of the LWCF grant area.
    • Proposals to construct public facilities such as recreation centers and indoor swimming pools where it can be shown there is a gain or increased benefit to the public outdoor recreation estate. These proposals must be reviewed by the NPS as a "public facility request." Consult with the LWCF grant coordinator during the early stages of planning for indoor facilities so proper procedures are followed and a conversion of use does not occur.
    • Proposals for temporary, non-conforming uses of the 6F grant area lasting no longer than six months. Temporary uses must be approved by the LWCF grant coordinator.
    • Proposals for changing the overall outdoor recreation use of the LWCF grant area from the originally approved recreation use of the area. These changes must be reviewed and approved by the LWCF grant coordinator and NPS before any changes are made.

    Summary of the Conversion of Use process:

    A conversion of use of any 6F project area should be avoided if at all possible. Conversions of use must be approved by the NPS and they may refuse to grant approval for a conversion. For this reason, the locality that has jurisdiction over the 6F site is strongly encouraged to contact the LWCF grant coordinator very early in the planning process.

    Conversion of use process includes, but is not limited to the following:

    • Early consultation with LWCF grant coordinator to outline proposal.
    • Formal request in writing for permission to convert LWCF assisted property.
    • All conversion proposals must include  a Proposal Description and Environmental Screening Form (PD-ESF), environmental assessment, appraisal, and boundary maps as part of the conversion process. All expenses associated with the development of these documents are the sole responsibility of the project sponsor/locality with jurisdiction over the LWCF area.
    • All practical alternatives to the conversion must be evaluated and rejected on a sound basis.
    • The fair market value of the property to be converted has been established and the property proposed for substitution is of at least equal fair market value as established by an approved appraisal (see appraisal guidance) excluding the value of structures or facilities that will not directly enhance its outdoor recreation utility.
    • The property proposed for replacement must be of reasonably equivalent usefulness and location as that being converted. Depending on the situation, and at the discretion of the NPS, replacement property need not provide identical recreation experiences or be located at the same site, provided it is in a reasonably equivalent location. Generally, the replacement property should be administered by the same political jurisdiction as the converted property.
    • The replacement property must constitute or be part of a viable recreation area. Viability and recreational usefulness are dependent upon the proposed outdoor recreation development plan and timetable for the development of the replacement parks. If full development of the replacement site(s) will be delayed beyond three years from the date of conversion approval, the conversion proposal shall explain why this is necessary.
    • The replacement land may not have been previously dedicated or managed by for recreation purposes while in public ownership.
    • If the 6f area is to be only partially converted, then the remainder of the existing facility must be a viable recreation facility.
    • The environmental analysis must be conducted in a neutral and factual manner and result in statements reflecting this same neutrality so the interested and affected public can focus on and understand the details of the proposed federal action of converting parkland including the replacement of new parkland according to 36 CFR 59. The environmental analysis documents should not include statements that promote or justify the action precipitating the conversion, such as proclaiming that the subject parkland is the best location for a new fire station.
    • For more detailed information on the conversion process, download the conversion of use procedure.


    Unauthorized Conversions:

    When it is discovered that a Section 6(f)(3) area has been converted without NPS approval, a conversion of use process must be immediately initiated so a conversion proposal can be submitted and reviewed by NPS for retroactive action. An unauthorized conversion causes the locality to be in violation of the Land and Water Conservation Act and places the locality and the state's eligibility for funding at risk.

    Resolution of the conversion requires both the LWCF grant coordinator and NPS to review the conversion proposal as set forth above including the provision of suitable replacement property. Failure to take steps to rectify the conversion shall be considered cause for the state/NPS to apply penalty options. Penalty options pursuant to 43 CFR Part 12.83, include withholding of payment of federal funds on active grants, withholding approval of further projects, and other action deemed appropriate under the circumstances.

  • Documents and Forms



    Map/GIS Files