Across the country, parks and recreational areas are gathering spots for families, play spaces for children, and practice and game sites for sporting events. The National Park Service, which is operated by the Federal Department of the Interior, has developed several grant opportunities for state governments, local governments and communities to acquire and conserve land to develop parks and recreational areas.

Rivers and Trails Conservation

The National Park Service has teamed up with Groundwork USA to provide funding to preserve recreational trails and rivers throughout the United States. The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program (RTCA) assists communities in preserving recreational spaces. RTCA helps communities create recreational greenways through their partnership with other agencies. The RTCA does not provide grant money directly. Rather, the National Park Service has teamed with Groundwork USA to provide over $400,000 in community grant money. As of 2009, the project has funded 17 sites across the country, with funds available for two additional conservation efforts in the 2010 fiscal year.

Kids who are ages 12 to 18 are given opportunities to join the Groundwork Green Teams. These teams work together with Groundwork USA employees, National Park Service agents and community works to clean up the trails, parks, recreational space, rivers and streams in areas awarded grant funding. To apply for grant money, interested parties should contact the National Park Service's RTCA branch or visit the website. Applications are accepted annually.

National Park Service Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program Org. Code 2220 1849 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20005 202-354-6900

Federal Surplus for Parks, Recreation and Historic Monuments

According to the Federal Grants Wire website, the National Park Service operates a land grant program designed to transfer federal lands to communities for park spaces and to preserve historical landmarks. This grant program allows state and local government to apply to receive federal lands in order to create parks for public use. The granted land must be returned to the federal government if it is no longer being used for a park, recreational space or as a historical monument space. Land must be open for public use in order for the state or local government to maintain control of it. To apply, local and state agencies must submit an application that clearly outlines how the land will be used in the community. Those wishing to create or preserve a historical monument must submit architectural plans with their grant application.

National Park Service Federal Lands to Parks Program Org. Code 2225 1849 C Street NW Washington, D.C. 20005 202-354-6915

Acquisition, Development and Planning of Outdoor Recreation

This program, developed by the National Park Service, was designed to help state governments and their subsidiaries acquire land and fund projects to develop park spaces for the general public, according to the Federal Grants Wire website. Grants can be given to states for a variety of development projects, including picnic areas, outdoor recreation areas, inner city parks, campgrounds, tennis courts, boat launching ramps, bike trails and picnic areas. Funds are not granted for the maintenance or operation of public park spaces.

Only government agencies designated by the governor for the development of Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plans (SCORPs) may apply for the grant money. Indian tribes are also eligible to receive grant monies. The state government is responsible for determining and proving a high recreational need in their area. Awarded grants have ranged from $150 to more than $5 million.

National Park Service Recreation Program 1849 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20005 202-354-6900