National Park Service
Program Logo Page header photo.

about us

getting land

frequently asked
questions

our projects

parks by state
(Click state, then Federal Lands to Parks box)

publications

contact us

federal lands to parks home

 

 




Frequently Asked Questions
 

 

What is surplus federal land? click image to view answer

Can I get surplus federal land? click image to view answer

What kind of surplus land is available? click image to view answer

Is there property available in my community? click image to view answer

How can the land be used? click image to view answer

How much does the land cost? click image to view answer

Who makes the decision whether we will receive property or not? click image to view answer

We acquired property from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (or Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service) and need some assistance related to the property. Who do we call? click image to view answer

We acquired land back in the 1970's for recreational purposes. At the time, we used the land as a ball field and open space. However the community has changed and the ball field is no longer used. Can we turn the property into a roller blade park, a swimming pool, a community amphitheater, a golf course, or just a picnic area? click image to view answer

What if we want to use the transferred property for something else later on rather than public parks and recreation? click image to view answer


 

Q. What is surplus federal land? return to top
A. Surplus federal land is real property owned by the United States of America that is no longer needed to serve the purposes of the Federal government. This real property does not include public domain, national forest, or national parklands.

 

Q. Can I get surplus federal land?     return to top
A. Only states, counties, municipalities, and similar government entities may acquire surplus Federal land for parks and recreational areas through an approved application by the Federal Lands to Parks Program. No preference is given to any particular level of government. Private and nonprofit organizations, religious institutions, and individuals are not eligible to acquire surplus Federal land for recreation through the Federal Lands to Parks Program. However, they may act as advocates for its acquisition by state and local governments. The General Services Administration can provide information about other federal programs that may transfer surplus federal property to non-profit organizations.

 

Q. What kind of surplus land is available? return to top
A. A great variety of land may be available from any department of the Federal government, including military bases, Army Corps of Engineers water control projects, former Army reserve sites. The area of land acquired may range from less than an acre to thousands of acres. The land may be located in rural or urban areas and consist of open space, forests, wetlands, lakes, or shorelines. The land may contain existing recreation facilities, such as athletic fields, basketball, and tennis courts, fitness centers, playgrounds, and swimming pools. Or the land or facilities may be abandoned and in need of repair or improvement to adapt the site for public use. As each community's needs are unique, so is each available property.

 

Q. Is there property available in my community? return to top
A. Communities can find a list of available properties from the General Services Administration's Resource Center Library page (click "Library" then "view notices"), or can and learn more about other ways to acquire property from the General Services Administrations' Public Buildings Service Property Disposal Home Page. Communities also can learn more about military bases at the Department of Defense's Office of Economic Adjustment Office Home Page.

 

Q. How can the land be used? return to top
A. Land acquired through the Federal Lands to Parks Program must be used for public park and recreational use in perpetuity. It may be developed for a single recreational activity, or multiple recreation activities, or be used to support an existing park or recreation area by providing parking or improved access. It may serve as a community center, a neighborhood park, a town square, or a regional or state park. Typical recreational uses include hiking, biking, camping, picnicking, hunting, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, swimming, boating, tennis, golf, and playing organized sports. If appropriate, the land may remain undeveloped for passive recreational use, such as bird watching, photography, or wildlife conservation, as long as it is open to the public.

 

Q. How much does the land cost? return to top
A. The National Park Service generally conveys land through the Federal Lands to Parks Program at no cost in return for the benefits derived by its public use. The applicant, however, is responsible for the costs of preparing the application which include, for example, the preparation of land surveys, title searches and site development plans. By acquiring property through the Federal Lands to Parks Program, the applicant promises to commit the funds necessary to properly develop, operate, and maintain the property for public park and recreational use, and to protect natural and cultural resources protected under related established federal laws in perpetuity.

 

Q. Who makes the decision whether we will receive property or not? return to top
A. The General Services Administration, for most types of federal property, or the Department of Defense, for certain military property, makes the final decision, based on the sponsorship and support of the application by the National Park Service, Federal Lands to Parks Program. The role of the Federal Lands to Parks Program is to provide technical assistance to applicants to develop plans for use, assure that applicants are capable of developing and maintaining the transferred property for park and recreation uses, and ensure stewardship of important cultural, natural, and recreational resources on the property.

 

Q. We acquired property from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (or Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service) and need some assistance related to the property. Who do we call? return to top
A. The National Park Service's Federal Lands to Parks Program should now be contacted for properties that were originally deeded for park and recreation purposes through the now-abolished agencies, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation and the Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service. Contact the appropriate Program Manager based on the state where you are located. If the property was deeded for "historic monument" purposes, you should contact the National Park Service's Historic Surplus Property Program.

 

Q. We acquired land back in the 1970's for recreational purposes. At the time, we used the land as a ball field and open space. However the community has changed and the ball field is no longer used. Can we turn the property into a roller blade park, a swimming pool, a community amphitheater, a golf course, or just a picnic area? return to top
A. Yes, probably, if the intended use is public recreation. However, each case is unique. Contact the appropriate regional Federal Lands to Parks Program Manager to discuss what you have in mind. You will be asked to develop a concept plan and prepare an amended program of utilization, which specifies exactly what you intend to do with the property. You should include details such as budget, time for completion, environmental impacts, etc. Send the amended program of utilization, along with a cover letter that explains the need for change to the Federal Lands to Parks Program Manager.

 

Q. What if we want to use the transferred property for something else later on rather than public parks and recreation? return to top
A. This occasionally happens. If the holder of the deed wants to use the property for different recreational uses than agreed to in the original application, he or she may request Federal Lands to Parks Program approval to amend the original use plan. For example, a local park agency may decide the open space is needed more as a public golf course. However, the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, as amended, says that if a property is no longer needed for public parks and recreation, it may be reverted back to the federal government, at the discretion of the Department of the Interior. One option is for the community to voluntarily return the property to the Federal government and seek to purchase the property at fair market value. An alternative to reverting the property is for the community (deed holder) to request National Park Service approval to replace the property with another suitable property that has the same or greater value and recreational utility.

 

 
Challenge Cost Share Program | Federal Lands to Parks | Hydropower Relicensing Program
Land and Water Conservation Fund | Conservation and Outdoor Recreation | National Trails System
Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers | Rivers and Trails Program | Urban Park and Recreation Recovery
Webmaster Last Modified 11-23-04
NPS.gov U.S. Department of the Interior FOIA Privacy Disclaimer USA.gov

U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service National Park Service