The National Park Service is guided by the Act of August 25, 1916, (the National Park Service Organic Act) to protect and preserve resources within units of the National Park System, while providing for public use and enjoyment of those resources. A number of park units contain non-Federal land. Depending on the use of these lands, it is sometimes necessary to seek to acquire them, or interests in them, or conduct land exchanges in order to protect resources and provide for visitor use and enjoyment. This work is done in cooperation with States, local governments, nonprofit organizations and property owners to provide various forms of protection.
Today, the National Park System totals more than 84 million acres, yet more than 2.6 million acres of privately owned lands remain within park boundaries. Acquisition of all privately owned land within a given park boundary is not always necessary and, in some cases, not feasible. However, many of these lands are important for visitor use and preservation of resources and have therefore been identified to be protected in fee or by scenic/conservation easement interest.
The Federal portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund is used to acquire lands, waters, and interests therein necessary to achieve the natural, cultural, wildlife, and recreation management objectives of the National Park Service. The Land Resources Division utilizes funding from the Federal portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to make these acquisitions.