Missouri awarded $3.1 million from the Land & Water Conservation Funds
U.S. Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, announced $170,623,713 in grants from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) will be divided among all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia for state-identified outdoor recreation and conservation projects. Missouri was allocated $3,168,557, Arkansas $2,145,470, and Kansas $2,231,831.
LWCF funds are non-taxpayer dollars that come from Outer Continental Shelf lease revenues and are awarded through federal matching grants administered by the National Park Service. Mike Sutherland, the Deputy Director of the Division of State Parks, described the Outer Continental Shelf Fund as "a fund that was set up to basically replace any kind of resources that were lost because of offshore oil or gas drilling."
The LWCF was established by Congress in 1964 to ensure public access to outdoor recreation resources for present and future generations, and to provide money to federal, state and local governments to purchase land, water and wetlands.
In years past, money from the LWCF has helped fund parks and trails projects across the Ozarks. In Springfield, a few of the parks the LWCF helped fund include the Cruse Dog Park, Fassnight Park, and the South Creek Greenway.
Sutherland talked about who can apply for a chunk of the $3.1 million. "It has to be a community or a school," he began. "In some cases, non-profits can apply."
Sutherland continued to explain the grants are a 50% match, saying applicants must be ready to hold-up their end of the bargain. "Sometimes what happens is that a site, while it may have been a great idea or thought that it was going to work, that it might not," said Sutherland. "Sometimes communities find out that the 50% match is more than they can handle."
Sutherland said they have seen major success when it comes to giving back to the Ozarks. "This is really a benefit to outdoor recreation throughout the state, and really a benefit to communities and the people who live in those communities to get outdoors."
Organizations and groups can start applying for a portion of the the Land & Water Conservation Fund money that was allocated to Missouri in December of 2019.
Since the inception of the LWCF, more than $4.4 billion has been made available to state and local governments to fund more than 43,000 projects throughout the nation.