The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has historically been a primary funding source of the U.S. Department of the Interior for outdoor recreation development and land acquisition by local governments and state agencies. In North Carolina, the program is administered by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Since 1965, the LWCF program has built a permanent park legacy for present and future generations. In North Carolina alone, the LWCF program has provided more than $85 million in matching grants to protect land and support more than 900 state and local park projects. More than 40,000 acres have been acquired with LWCF assistance to establish a park legacy in our state.
A Brief Summary
The fund was established in 1964 by Congress to create parks and open space; protect wilderness, wetlands, and refuges; preserve habitat; and enhance outdoor recreational opportunities. The fund is principally supported through receipts from oil and gas drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. In most years, Congress makes an LWCF appropriation to each state. States receive individual allocations of LWCF grant funds based on a national formula, with state population being the most influential factor.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service administers the program on behalf of the federal government. Authority for the program at the state level is vested in the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources and the State Liaison Officer (SLO) appointed by the Governor.
To be eligible for LWCF assistance, every state must prepare and regularly update a statewide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan (SCORP). The SCORP includes inventories or assessments of current recreation resources (local, state and federal) within a state; identifies needs and new opportunities for outdoor recreation improvements; and sets forth a five-year action agenda to meet the goals identified by its citizens and elected leaders.
Historically, North Carolina's LWCF annual allocation has been split 60/40 between local governments and state agencies.
More information from the federal LWCF grant program: http://www.nps.gov/lwcf/
Responsibilities of the State Liaison Officer and LWCF Staff
The state liaison officer (SLO) reviews the LWCF allocation in consultation and with advice from the LWCF staff. The SLO determines the minimum and maximum amount of grant awards for state agency and local government projects.
During each funding cycle, the LWCF Staff will review the evaluations of each application submitted, consider the ranking of the projects, and recommend a list of projects to the SLO for funding. The SLO recommends the list of projects to the National Park Service for final review and funding.