Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Grant and the Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant

children play on playground equipment

 NOTICE:​ The FY23 OSLAD Grant Program is now open (08/01/2022 - 09/30/2022). Applications are due by 5:00 PM on 09/30/2022.

What is the OSLAD and LWCF Grant?

The Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Program is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space. The federal Land & Water Conservation Fund program (known as both LWCF and LAWCON) is a similar program with similar objectives. Both are managed in Illinois by the Department of Natural Resources with concurrent application due dates, equal grant maximums and similar general rules.

Projects vary from small neighborhood parks or tot lots to large community and county parks and nature areas. The state program is financed by a percentage of the state's Real Estate Transfer Tax. The federal program is financed nationally by revenue from offshore oil and gas leases.

Under both programs, funding assistance up to 50% (100% for distressed communities - OSLAD program only) of approved project costs can be obtained. Grant awards up to $1,725,000.00 are available for acquisition projects, while development/renovation projects (OSLAD programs only) are limited to a $600,000 grant maximum.

Applicant Eligibility

OSLAD/LWCF grants are available to units of local government that are authorized by Illinois law to expend public funds for the acquisition and development of land for public outdoor park, recreation, or conservation purposes are eligible to apply for funding assistance. School districts are not eligible.

There are now five grantee pre-award requirements statewide per Grant Accountability and Transparency Act (GATA) State Statute 30 ILCS 708/1. The five pre-award requirements all state grantees must complete are described in more detail.

Eligible Projects

Example of Eligible Projects include:

  1. Acquisition of land for new park sites or park expansion, water frontage, nature study, and natural resource preservation. (LWCF & OSLAD)

  2. Development/Renovation of: (OSLAD only)

    • Picnic and playground facilities;
    • Outdoor nature interpretive facilities;
    • Sports courts and play fields;
    • Swimming pools, beaches and bathhouses;
    • Campgrounds and fishing piers;
    • winter sports facilities;
    • Park roads and paths, parking, utilities and restrooms; and
    • Architectural/engineering (A/E) services necessary for proper design and construction of approved project components.

Project Evaluation

Written applications must be submitted to IDNR during the period indicated on the current Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on the GATA website. Only those local government agencies having statutory authority to acquire and develop land for public park purposes are eligible to apply for and receive assistance under the OSLAD and LWCF grant programs.

Applications are evaluated and prioritized for funding assistance based upon recreation priorities and criteria identified in the Department's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). Lands acquired with OSLAD or LWCF funds are required to be operated and maintained in perpetuity for public outdoor recreation.

How to Apply

Step 1

All applicants must be pre-qualified through the State of Illinois Grantee Portal. Additional information on prequalification is available here.

Step 2

Please READ the Notice of Funding Opportunity for more details on this program, including scoring criteria and grant program rules and restrictions.  NOFO FY23 OSLAD 8.1.22 FINAL.pdf

Step 3

You can download the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program Manual below.

Step 4

All applications must be submitted in the AmpliFund Grant Management System

No other form of submission will be allowed or eligible.

Note: Applications received after the application deadline, will not be considered. Submission of an incomplete application does not extend the application deadline.

CATALOG OF STATE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE to learn about future funding opportunities.

Current Year Materials

Previous Year Materials

Additional Material