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Outdoor Recreation and Legacy Partnership Program

Program objective

The Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) Program provides matching grants to states and local governments for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities in urban areas.

This program is known as the National Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program. The purpose of this program is to provide new or significantly improve outdoor recreation opportunities for economically-disadvantaged communities in larger urbanized areas that are undeserved in terms of parks and other outdoor recreation resources.

In Michigan, this program will be jointly administered by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (Department) and the National Park Service (NPS). Michigan's 2023-2027 Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) assesses the existing outdoor recreation facilities and resources and growing demands for recreation activities and evaluates national and state trends. The plan establishes priority strategies for achieving outdoor recreation goals and provides guidance for the next five years for all levels of government in Michigan and their local outdoor recreation partners and stakeholders.

Michigan's 2023-2027 SCORPORLP

Program competition priorities

Applicants are evaluated using established criteria and alignment with Michigan's SCORP. The criteria used to evaluate the projects is determined and scored by the National Park Service. The competition will prioritize the selection of projects that are nature-based projects (projects where nature is a major element of, or strongly supports, the proposed recreational activity):

  • provide new recreational opportunities, particularly those that will increase access to nature’s benefits, such as green spaces, shady areas (via tree cover), and natural landscapes that help cool the air and reduce urban heat island effects, reduce pollution, and have positive effects on mental and physical health;
  • empowered and engaged residents of the disadvantaged neighborhood(s) in the project development and design of the plans for the park;
  • demonstrate significant collaboration among the public and private sectors, including multiple levels of government, private/non-profit organizations, and community groups (e.g., money or donations of land, supplies, or services, etc.); and
  • has strong initiatives, policies, incentives, etc., to protect the area from gentrification. For more insight, see the National Recreation and Parks Associations paper Greening Without Gentrification.

Detailed information on the scoring criteria and application requirements can be found in the Round 7 ORLP Funding Opportunity and Requirements

Applicant eligibility

Any unit of government, including Native American tribes, or any combination of units in which authority is legally constituted to provide recreation. Applicants must have a DNR-approved community five-year recreation plan to be eligible. As designed, the purpose of the ORLP Program is to provide new or significantly improved recreation opportunities in urban, disadvantaged communities consistent with the purposes and requirements of the LWCF Act and LWCF Manual. To meet ORLP objectives and goals, projects must:

  • meet recreation goals as identified in, and align with, at least one priority of, the State’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan
  • be located within a city having a population of 30,000 or more, and
  • located within a community (Census Tract) that is determined to be disadvantaged per the Climate and Environmental Justice Screening Tool

Eligible project types

Acquisition or development for a wide range of outdoor recreation uses and facilities needed to support the use and enjoyment of the area. Projects must involve publicly owned land or transfer of ownership by fee simple acquisition, to a public entity. Acquisition or use of lesser interests (e.g., a perpetual easement) as a means of legal control is not permitted for the ORLP competition. Pre-existing easements are unacceptable because the easement language must acknowledge the LWCF grant information and requirements.

Ineligible ORLP project types and limits of awards per site

  • most indoor recreation and other buildings, such as nature centers or education centers; however, facilities to support the use of recreating, such as restrooms, can be eligible,
  • parks/sites that are currently receiving an LWCF formula grant, or that received an LWCF formula grant that closed within the last seven years, at the same park, even if the scope of project is different, and
  • parks/sites that have already received two previous ORLP awards.

Application process

This year, the NPS is allowing for a multi-step application process and full federal applications are not required to complete in the national competition. However, if the project is selected for funding, they must submit a full application for NPS final review within one year to remain eligible. To submit a full federal application proposal this includes submitting your project to the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for section106 review, filling out the Application and Revision Form, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Review, and Tribal Review.  In order for the project to complete NEPA, it may be necessary to contact United States Army Core of Engineers (USACE) or the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) to determine if a federal USACE Permit/ Joint Permit will be required for project completion.  You will also likely need to complete a Information for Planning and Consultation (IPaC) Report to determine if there are any threatened or endangered species that may be impacted by your project.  Depending on the outcome of the IPaC Report, further consultation with the United State Fish and Wildlife Services may be needed.  This additional consultation takes time, therefore applicants are encouraged to submit your package to SHPO, complete the Application and Revision Form and complete the IPaC Report prior to submitting the application via MiGrants. 

Submittal of a Full Application via MiGrants 

  1. Evaluation by DNR Staff
  2. Selection by the DNR to the NPS Panel
  3. Review of Full Applications received Nationwide
  4. Final Approval of Projects by the NPS.


Applications are due via MiGrants no later than March 1, 2024 in order for the Department to review the application for eligibility, prior to submitting the application in by April 30, 2024.

Dollar amount available

The minimum grant request amount is $300,000 and the maximum grant request amount is $15 million.

Source of funds

Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund


Part 703 of P.A. 451 of 1994, as amended


Christie Bayus, grants program manager, at 517-242-8737 or or Grants Management Staff.