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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 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 2018-2022 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. The Department is in the process of updating it’s current SCORP that expires on December 31, 2022.  A new 2023 - 2027 SCORP will replace this SCORP once the Department has NPS approval.  Please check the website for the updated SCORP or contact Department staff for more information.

Michigan's 2018-2022 SCORP

ORLP 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:

  • 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 members of the target community in the project development and design of the plans for the park;
  • create or expand public-private partnerships that leverage matching share resources (e.g., money or donations of land, supplies, or services, etc.);
  • benefit from a high degree of coordination among the public, multiple levels of government, and the private sector; and
  • advance goals of, or meet, priority recreation needs identified in numerous local, regional, state plans and/or initiatives 
Detailed information on the scoring criteria and application requirements can be found in the FY22 ORLP Funding Opportunity and Requirements - NPS Document 

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 economically-disadvantaged communities, consistent with the purposes and requirements of the LWCF Act and LWCF Manual, and that:

  • meet recreation goals as identified in, and align with, at least one priority of, the State’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan
  • are located within a city having a population of 30,000 or more, and
  • serve the specific needs of a community(ies) that is (are) severely lacking in walkable, publicly accessible, outdoor recreation (“park deserts”), and that has a poverty rate of at least 20% or that is at least 10% higher than that of the project city, county, and state rates).

*For the purposes of this competition, for a community to be considered a “park desert,” there must be:

  1. no existing parks within a .5-mile radius of the community(ies) to be served by the park (not the radius of the proposed park);
  2. one or two small parks within a .5-mile radius of the community(ies) that is/are not large enough to support the size of the population of the service area, or otherwise unable to provide a variety of recreational opportunities; or
  3. one or two existing parks (potentially of adequate size), including the park that is being addressed in this project, that is/are so obsolete or underdeveloped that a major redevelopment or rehabilitation is necessary to be able to significantly increase the number of people or user groups who could be served in a way that would be equivalent to a new park.
  4. existing parks that are inaccessible to the target community due to physical barriers such as transportation infrastructure, rivers, etc. Proposed projects must align with the above listed ORLP purposes to be considered for selection.

Application process

In the past, applicants were able to submit a pre-application to compete in the nationwide competition.  This year, the NPS is requiring that applications submit a full application in order to compete in the nationwide competition.  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 times, therefore applicants are encouraged to plan accordingly and start the consultation process early on and 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
  3. Panel Review of Full Applications received Nationwide
  4. Final Approval of Projects by the NPS.


Funds will be awarded in two rounds for this competition; Round 6A and round 6B. 

Round 6A: Applications must be submitted via MiGrants to the Department no later than November 1st, 2022 in order for the Department to review the application for eligibly and then submit the application to the NPS to be reviewed by the NPS Compliance Team for NEPA, SHPO 106 Review, and Tribal Review prior to the Department submitting the application in by January 31, 2023.

Round 6B: Applications must be submitted via MiGrants to the Department no later than February 1st, 2023 in order for the Department to review the application for eligibly and then submit the application to the NPS to be reviewed by the NPS Compliance Team for NEPA, SHPO 106 Review, and Tribal Review prior to the Department submitting the application in by May 31, 2023.

Dollar amount available

The minimum grant request amount is $300,000 and the maximum grant request amount is $10 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.