News Release

National Park Service grants $16 million to bolster locally led conservation and recreation improvements in 13 states

Date: August 10, 2021

WASHINGTON – The National Park Service today announced the selection of 19 project proposals to develop brand new or improve 15 parks and 4 trails in economically disadvantaged urban areas in 13 states. These projects, as part of the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) program, would result in the federal investment of $16.8 million in Land and Water Conservation Funds (LWCF) to benefit communities that are under-served with respect to parks and other outdoor recreation opportunities.

The ORLP program helps urban communities acquire or develop land to create or reinvigorate public parks and other outdoor recreation spaces in ways that will provide opportunities for people, especially youth, to connect or re-connect with the outdoors. Priority is given to projects that engage and empower youth in underserved communities; provide opportunities for employment or job training; involve and expand public-private partnerships; and rely on a high degree of coordination among all levels of government, to expand and improve recreation opportunities for all.

“Through these grants, cities are able to provide equitable access to their parks and other outdoor recreational areas where none, or little, currently exist,” said NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge. “Local parks, especially in urban areas, serve as a vital resource for economically disadvantaged communities. This grant program is available to every state and boosts communities’ outdoor recreation opportunities.”

Examples of projects already funded through the ORLP program include:

  • In Oregon, the City of Portland, Verde, and private partners developed Cully Park, a 25-acre park on a former landfill in the Cully neighborhood of northeast Portland. The neighborhood, one of Portland's larger and more populous neighborhoods, is predominantly minority and low-income and has limited outdoor recreation opportunities as compared to other regional areas. The grant restored habitat and supported development of an accessible playground, walking trail with exercise equipment, scenic overlooks, off leash dog area, inter-tribal Gathering Garden, and a youth soccer field.
  • Metroparks of Toledo, in Ohio created access to the 73-acre Toledo Manhattan Marsh Preserve, a large urban natural area and first Metropark in North Toledo. This project developed boardwalks and aggregated walking paths as well as a canoe/kayak launch and related facilities.

These grants contribute to the Biden-Harris administration’s America the Beautiful initiative, a locally led and voluntary nationwide effort to conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030. One of the six areas of focus includes addressing the inequitable access to the outdoors that exists in the country by creating more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities.

An additional round of funding applications are now being accepted in through September 24. States may apply for the grants, whether on behalf of themselves or eligible urban jurisdictions. Interested jurisdictions should contact their state lead agency for LWCF. A list of contacts can be found at LWCF’s contacts page. Project sponsors must match the grant award 1:1 with non-federal dollars. A total of $150 million in funding is available during this grant cycle.

For more than 55 years, the LWCF has funded $4 billion worth of projects in every county in the country. Last year, Congress permanently funded the LWCF at $900 million per year with wide bipartisan support. At no cost to taxpayers, the LWCF supports increased public access to and protection for federal public lands and waters — including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas — and provides matching grants to state governments for the acquisition and development of public parks and other outdoor recreation sites. The ORLP program, which grew out of a 2014 Congressional request for a new competitive grant program to complement the state formula grant program under the LWCF, is administered by the National Park Service.

For more information about the LWCF, please visit

The complete list of projects that were selected to receive an ORLP grant, pending additional documentation and environmental compliance requirements, is below.

Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Round 4 Selected Projects


East Bay Regional Park District (San Francisco)

Tidewater Estuary Park Improvements and Public Access - $1,000,000

East Bay Regional Park District plans to redevelop Tidewater Estuary Park in East Oakland, expanding onto a former trucking storage yard to become an 8-acre park. Grant funds will be used to create a play area/playground, picnic and barbeque areas, and multi-use pathways.

City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation

Ortega Park Revitalization Project - $1,000,000

The City of Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation plans to complete a full-scale rehabilitation of Ortega Park with a new multi-sport synthetic turf field, year-round pool, park restrooms, playground, family picnic area, and a multi-generational activity zone with a skate park, basketball, bocce ball, and other amenities. The project includes park access and circulation improvements with pedestrian pathways and expanded street parking.

County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation

Ford’s Theater Hiking Trail - $999,822

The County of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation plans to create a new hiking trail through a naturally vegetated hillside offering stunning scenic vistas within a 45-acre regional park that is also home to the Ford’s Theater.

District of Columbia

Department of Energy and Environment

Equitable Access to Paddle Sport Recreation at Kingman Island - $781,800

The District of Columbia's Department of Energy and Environment plans to create a paddle sport recreation area at Kingman Island by constructing a pavilion for kayak and canoe storage and a permeable paver turnaround for access, restoring the wetlands around and dredging a shallow navigational channel to create an area to teach paddling, and installing a composting toilet. 


City of Des Moines

Central Place Levee Trail - Phase I - $500,000

The City of Des Moines plans to complete Phase 1 of the Central Place Levee Trail by developing a 1.8 mile multi-use trail section between Rotary Riverwalk Park in downtown Des Moines, and the intersection of Franklin and 2nd Avenue in north-central Des Moines. The trail sets atop a levee offering views of the Des Moines River Greenway.


City of Baltimore

Middle Branch Park Trail and Water Access - $1,000,000

The City of Baltimore plans to improve Middle Branch Park by extending a trail along and improving access to the Patapsco River to support boating, fishing/crabbing, walking, biking and wildlife viewing, and restoring the shoreline to facilitate access and improve habitat. The project is a first phase of plans for the trail that will continue on to other property along the riverfront and ultimately connect to another park.


City of Worcester

Tacoma Street Playground Renovation - $1,000,000

The City of Worcester plans to renovate the Tacoma Street Playground by constructing an athletic field and bleachers, installing field lighting, retaining wall, parking improvements, and upgrading the current drainage system.


Genesee County

Flint River Restoration Project - $1,000,000

In partnership with the City of Flint, Genesee County plans to help restore the Flint River Riverfront by installing multiple rock rapid areas within the main channel to naturalize river flow and allow fish passage upstream, resting pools to provide safe recreational benefits for fisherman and park users, entrance and site improvements, and furnishings. The riverbanks will also be improved by modifying and naturalizing existing concrete and sheet metal retaining walls with vegetation and rock terraces. 


Great Rivers Greenway (St. Louis)

A New Vision for The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Park and Trailhead - $990,000

Great Rivers Greenway (special purpose district) of St. Louis plans to develop and rehabilitate the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Park with new and upgraded infrastructure, and conservation and safety trailhead enhancements, including meadow and woodland restoration, nature trails, site furnishings, an entry road, an event area, and parking.

New Jersey

City of Trenton

104 Taylor Street Soccer and Fitness Development - $1,000,000

The City of Trenton plans to develop a soccer and fitness complex at 104 Taylor Street, the site of a former industrial site along the Assunpink Creek. New amenities include a regulation sized-soccer field and two open air pavilions, one outfitted with exercise equipment and the other left open as a multipurpose space.

Camden County

Whitman Park Improvement and Expansion $1,000,000

Camden County plans to improve the existing 6.5-acre Whitman Park and expand it into an adjacent 3.5-acre former industrial property, creating a 10-acre hub for youth sports and play.

North Carolina

City of Rocky Mount

Battle Park Renovation - $500,000

The City of Rocky Mount plans to assist Battle Park by renovating sections of the greenway, boat ramp, fishing piers, canoe/kayak launch, installing an additional launch, replacing three existing shelters with picnic areas, providing additional trails and parking, creating a bouldering and bike trials area, making improvements to the trailhead, including restrooms, and completing riparian and landscaping improvements.


City of Cleveland

Clark Avenue Park Development Project - $661,724

The City of Cleveland plans to develop Clark Avenue Park, located next to the Clark Recreation Center. The project includes preparing the site and improving infrastructure and landscaping, and installing a splash pad, play equipment, basketball court, outdoor game tables and park benches.

Metroparks Toledo

Glass City Metropark: Urban Camping- $1,000,000

Metroparks Toledo plans to develop urban camping infrastructure at Glass City Metropark by installing 11 campsites, four over-night eco-huts, an overlook providing views of the Maumee River, parking, restrooms and showers, a walking path and an access road.

South Carolina

Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission

Cooper River County Park Development - $1,000,000

Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission plans to complete Phase 1 of the revitalization of Cooper River County Park by turning the currently undeveloped upland into a park that will complement the existing marina. The City will complete site preparation and install landscaping, passive recreation park amenities, trails, a picnic area, grills, bike racks, benches and marsh boardwalks.


City of Lakewood

Wards Lake Park Enhancement - $1,000,000

The City of Lakewood plans to expand and improve critical wetland areas at Ward Lake Park and provide new active and play amenities including a bicycle/skateboard pump-track, a 3-acre fenced off-leash dog park, enhanced upland forest and native oak-prairie habitat areas, a 1-mile loop trail around the lake, pedestrian safety improvements, and greater connectivity to the park and other trail corridors. Park infrastructure will also be upgraded.

Seattle Parks and Recreation

North Rainier Park Development - $1,000,000

Seattle Parks and Recreation plans to develop the one-acre North Rainier Land Banked site into a new park, providing multi-use and cross generational activities including a fitness zone, basketball half-court, picnic areas, a lawn, walking paths, bike racks, planted areas and trees.

Seattle Parks and Recreation

Maple Wood Playfield Renovation - $1,000,000

Seattle Parks and Recreation plans to renovate the Maple Wood Playfield by making improvements including upgrading drainage and irrigation, regrading the fields, renovating two multi-use athletic fields and restrooms, and installing a grass playing surface, new play equipment, a basketball half-court, gaga ball court, separate play structures and gathering spaces to support community gatherings/events.


City of Milwaukee

Extending the Kinnickinnic River Oak Leaf Trail to High Needs Areas - $453,954

The City of Milwaukee plans to construct the Kinnickinnic River Parkway Off-Road Trail at Oak Leaf Trail from 16th St to 27th (approximately 5500 linear feet) as a 10' wide off-road paved trail. Additionally, trees will be planted, rain gardens installed, and outdoor recreation facilities will be renovated to meet community needs.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 423 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at, and on FacebookInstagramTwitter, and YouTube

Last updated: August 17, 2022