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Community Conservation Partnerships Program Grants

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Bureau of Recreation and Conservation assists local governments and recreation and conservation organizations with funding for projects related to:

  • Parks
  • Recreation
  • Conservation

Applications for the department’s Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants are accepted once a year.

The application period for the recreation and conservation grants opens in January and closes in April each year:

  • Opens: (Third Tuesday of January)
  • Closes: (First Wednesday of April)

There are exceptions for ATV and Snowmobile Trails Management Restricted Account Grants, which are conducted during the spring and fall:

  • Spring: Always opens first business day in February and closes the last business day in March.
  • Fall: Always opens first business day in August and closes the last business day in September.

Peer and Circuit Rider Grants are open year-round.

What Types of Projects Can Be Funded?

Community Conservation Partnerships Program grants can fund:

  • Planning, acquisition, and development of public parks
  • Recreation areas
  • Motorized and non-motorized trails
  • River conservation and access
  • Conservation of open space
  • Community and watershed forestry

Grants also support regional and statewide partnerships that build capacity to better develop and manage resources.

Community Recreation and Conservation Planning Funding

Planning projects “lay the groundwork” for future land acquisition, development, and/or management of parks, recreational facilities, critical habitat, open space, natural areas, greenways, and river/watershed corridors. Examples include:

  • Master site development plan
  • Swimming pool complex feasibility study
  • Indoor recreation facility feasibility study
  • Comprehensive recreation, park and open space and greenway plan
  • Rivers conservation plan
  • Land conservation and stewardship plan
  • Combination projects

Park Rehabilitation and Development Funding

These projects involve the rehabilitation and development of public parks, recreation facilities, greenways, and river conservation projects. Examples include:

  • Park rehabilitation and development
  • Small community development

Land Acquisition and Conservation Funding

These projects involve the purchase and/or donation of land fo​r:

  • Park and recreation areas
  • Greenways
  • Critical habitat areas
  • Open space

Motorized and Non-Motorized Trail Funding

Trail projects include the acquisition, planning, development, rehabilitation, or maintenance of designated routes on land or water for motorized and non-motorized recreation activities.

This includes the purchase of equipment for trail construction or maintenance. Examples of project that can be funded include:

  • Acquisition
  • Planning
  • Development, rehabilitation, or maintenance
  • Purchase of equipment
  • Education programs

All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Snowmobile Projects

All-terrain vehicle (ATV) and snowmobile projects include projects related to facilities that support the use of ATVs and/or snowmobiles.

State and Regional Partnership Funding

Partnerships projects are collaborative statewide or regional initiatives that help build local, county, regional, and statewide capacity to better develop and manage recreation and park facilities and to promote the conservation of natural and heritage resources through plan implementation, education, and training.

Funding can be provided for:

  • Convening, education, or training
  • Special purpose and planning studies
  • Implementation projects
  • Mini-grants to develop small grant programs

Peer and Circuit Rider Funding

These grant programs fund projects that help municipalities, counties, multi-municipal partnerships, and councils of government to increase local capacity for recreation, parks, and conservation.

The Peer program funds collaborative projects that focus on a specific need identified by the grantee and its partners.

The Circuit Rider program aids in the hiring of a full-time park, recreation, or conservation professional whose services are shared by the members of a formal partnership, commission, or authority.

Rivers Conservation Grants and Community and Watershed Forestry Funding

Rivers Conservation

Rivers conservation projects focus on protecting and enhancing the conservation or recreation value of Pennsylvania’s waterways.

Applications are submitted under the appropriate primary grant category.

For example, funding for a rivers conservation plan would be requested through a Community Recreation and Conservation Planning grant application; an easement or purchase to protect a headwaters area would require a Land Acquisition and Conservation grant.

Examples of rivers conservation projects that can be funded include:

  • Acquisition of land to protect a sensitive water resource
  • Rivers conservation plan
  • River access point development
  • Water trail management

Community and Watershed Forestry

The Community and Watershed Forestry Program provides financial assistance to identify locations in need of riparian forest buffers, lawn conversion, and urban tree-planting and to design, implement, and establish those practices.

This program supports projects that produce conventional buffers and multifunctional buffers -- a buffer type that provides an opportunity to harvest products such as nuts, berries, woody florals, forbs, and potentially woody biomass in addition to the conventional buffer of riparian tree and shrub species.

Who is Eligible to Apply?

Eligible applicants for Community Conservation Partnerships Program funding include:

  • Counties
  • Municipalities
  • Municipal agencies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • State Heritage Areas
  • Prequalified land trusts
  • For-profit enterprises (for some grant types)

Most programs require a minimum cash or noncash matching contribution from the applicant that is equal to 50 percent of the project cost.

Funding Sources for Grants

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ grant and technical assistance programs were created through federal and state legislative action over a number of years. Information about each of the program’s funding sources is available below.

State Funding

State funding sources for the Community Conservation Partnership Program grants include:

Federal Funding

Federal funding sources for the Community Conservation Partnership Program grants include:

Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Land and Water Conservation Fund state assistance program, established in 1965, is a federal source of funding distributed to all states by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.

The program provides matching grants for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources administers the Land and Water Conservation Fund program for Pennsylvania:

Recreational Trails Program

The Recreational Trails Program provides funds to states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses.

The program is an assistance program of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.

Legacy Funding Sources

The following acts represent inactive funding sources once used to provide grants for recreation and conservation projects across the Commonwealth.

Although the funding is no longer available, the restrictions associated with the various acts still apply to sites that received the funding: