The Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
LWCF is a Federal grant program managed through the National Park Service and the NC Division of Parks and Recreation (DPR). The program began in 1965 and has funded 874 park projects in North Carolina providing more than $74,700,000 in Federal grant funds for outdoor recreation.
A key feature of the program is that all LWCF assisted areas must be maintained and open, in perpetuity, as public outdoor recreation areas. This federal requirement ensures that these recreation resources be available to future generation. Converting a LWCF park to a use other than recreation requires a lengthy review process by both the state and the National Park Service. Of 100 North Carolina counties, 97 have at least one LWCF assisted park. The NPS maintains a comprehensive list of projects in each county as a reference.
Commonly Asked Questions
The answers below only provide basic information about LWCF restrictions and conversions. Every situation is different and must be evaluated through the proper channels. Always contact your regional RRS consultant to discuss your situation and get information on how to proceed.
Does our park have LWCF Restrictions?
Keep in mind that some park names may have been changed over the years. The local project sponsor (incorporated municipality or county) should have information about the project on file. Also, all funded projects are required to have an official LWCF sign posted in the park. If you are still not sure, please contact your regional RRS consultant to find out.
What does a 6(f) boundary restriction mean?
When a project is assisted with LWCF funds, the grantee submits a site plan depicting funded facilities and outlining the boundaries of the project. Typically, the boundaries are the metes and bounds of the entire park. This boundary is the 6(f) boundary defining the park site as outlined in the LWCF act. The property is restricted to public outdoor recreation use in perpetuity. The land may not be used for any other purpose. Doings so results in a conversion from the signed project agreement, or contract.
How long are restrictions in place?
In perpetuity. LWCF restricts use of the property for outdoor recreation use forever. If your grant was awarded in the early years of the program when development was allowed on leased property, it is possible that the restrictions expire with the lease term. Contact your regional RRS consultant to confirm and discuss the option to continue with restrictions or request they be removed.
If LWCF only funded one facility, is the entire park restricted?
Yes. To determine the exact 6(f) boundaries, we will need to review the original project agreement and application file. That file documents the metes and bounds of the restricted property. If you have added park property since your grant, the new property may not hold 6(f) restrictions. Contact your regional RRS consultant to confirm.
What is a conversion?
There are two types of conversions; one associated with the property, the other with a funded facility.
- A property conversion means that the park site (within the 6(f) boundaries) is being used for purposes other than public outdoor recreation. Examples include, but are not limited to: utility or road easements, sale of property, construction of non-recreation facility such as a pump station, town hall, or fire station within the boundaries.
- Facility conversions occur when a facility constructed with LWCF assistance, such as tennis or basketball courts, playgrounds or trails have been removed from the site or are no longer in proper repair for public use. It may also occur when indoor recreation facilities are constructed on site. This includes enclosing an outdoor pool, even with a bubble.
When should I contact my RRS consultant about proposed changes in my LWCF park?
- LWCF funded facilities in disrepair, outdated or no longer in use
- Proposed changes to park boundaries, including sell of property
- Relocation of facilities within park boundaries
- Development of indoor recreation facilities (including enclosing a pool)
- Utility easement proposed through park property
- Non-recreation use within park boundaries
What if the facility has reached the end its lifetime or usefulness?
Many facilities were constructed with LWCF assistance over 30 years ago. Local sponsors are required to properly maintain and/or replace facilities as needed. If you have a facility (tennis court, for example) that has reached the end of its estimated lifespan and the public no longer needs that facility, the local sponsor may request that it be removed from LWCF restrictions.
What is the process to request a conversion?
Contact your regional RRS consultant to discuss your LWCF site and the potential conversion. He or she will be able to provide conversion instructions based on your particular situation.
May we proceed with changes prior to official conversion approval?
No. Before any changes that are a conversion are made to a project site, approval to proceed must be received from the National Park Service. Keep in mind that not all requests are approved for conversion.
How long does a conversion request take?
Depending on the complexity of your request, the completeness of the documentation you submit and the time of year, your request may take from 3 to 6 months for approval. The request is submitted from the State of NC to the National Park Service.
What happens if we have a conversion without approval?
Contact your regional RRS consultant immediately to discuss the conversion and procedures to follow to remedy the situation. Many times, simple documentation is sufficient. However, if a conversion is unresolved your County or Town is “out of compliance” with their LWCF agreement. This status may negatively effect any other grant applications through the state or Federal system.