What We Do

The NPS’s Federal Lands to Parks Program gives surplus federal land, usually at no cost, to communities for public parks and recreational areas. Surplus properties are properties held by the federal government that it no longer needs. Since its inception in 1949, this program has transferred about 178,000 acres to state and local governments.

This program exists to help communities get land from the federal government. We advocate for communities that want to acquire land and ensure those properties stay open for public recreational use and taken care of. We’re engaged with every step of the process, from applying for properties to securing ownership.

The Federal Lands to Parks Program is granted this authority under 40 U.S.C. 550(b) and (e).

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Finding out

When federal land becomes available for reuse, the General Services Administration or another federal disposing agency will notify federal and state agencies. Federal Lands to Parks staff review notices of available property for park and recreation opportunities and notify relevant park agencies.

A state or local government agency interested in property for parks or recreational areas should notify the Federal Lands to Parks Program regional office in writing.The National Park Service typically has 25 days from the notice of availability to tell the agency disposing of the property about the interest.


State and local agencies apply for property by reaching out to a regional office. By request, the Federal Lands to Parks Program will help a potential applicant apply for and obtain surplus property for parks and recreation areas. Successful applications include:

  • the need for the property for parks or recreation, and its historical, natural, or recreational preservation

  • the suitability of the property for park and recreational use

  • the applicant's capability to operate and maintain the property for public parks and recreation

  • a program describing the property’s proposed park and recreational uses, as well as a site plan

Getting Ownership

If the application is satisfactory, the Federal Lands to Parks Program requests the property from the federal agency disposing of it. Once the National Park Service approves an application, the Federal Land to Parks Program advocates for the community and its request for the park land. If successful, the National Park Service deeds the land to the applicant under several conditions to ensure continued public access, recreational use, and stewardship.


After the land is conveyed, the Federal Lands to Parks Program monitors the property's use and development to make sure it is managed according to the terms and conditions of the deed and approved use plan. The property deed will specify that the property must remain for public park and recreational use in perpetuity. Also, the property recipient must submit a brief biennial report on property use and condition.


Still have questions? Visit our FAQ. Additional information about public benefit conveyances and available property can be found on the General Services Administration and Department of Defense websites.

Last updated: July 24, 2018