The Park Service is finding out about more closures and conversions of federally protected parks than ever before. But no one knows just how many. Even today, the Park Service doesn’t have a full list of the parks that are protected under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.
The database compiled by InvestigateWest is a starting point. It lists every LWCF grant made between 1965 and 2011. Each record has a project name; a sponsor, which is often a town or city; and the state and county where the project took place. We invite readers to find parks in their hometowns and report back on any parks that have been closed or converted.
Choose your state to begin searching:
What’s included in the database?
There are two main types of grants: park grants and planning grants. Planning grants go to states to pay for a Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, or SCORP, which is a five-year plan that defines LWCF priorities in each state. Park grants are used to acquire or develop parkland for outdoor recreational use. In general, no matter the size of the grant relative to the size of the park, the entire park gets federal protection.
How do you I find protected parks near me?
This is a big part of the problem. Only in the last ten years or so has the Park Service started to collect detailed location information. It’ll get better, but for now, you can only look up all the parks in your county. But try searching for your city or the name of a local park, too. It might be listed under the project name or grant sponsor.
What happens if I find a local park on the list?
The two main questions to ask are: Is it still available to the public for outdoor recreation? Do you remember any parts of the park being sold off or closed to the public in years past? If it has been closed or converted, every state has an LWCF representative. You can find their contact information here. The National Parks Service also has regional offices you can call.
Of course, please also let us know, and we’ll look into it: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line: Parks for Sale.