DCNR Community Recreation and Conservation Planning Grants

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)

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Anticipated deadline: Apr 22, 2021 1:00pm PDT

Grant amount: Up to US $10,000

Fields of work: Land/Habitat Conservation Recreation Freshwater Conservation Parks & Public Spaces Greening & Beautification

Applicant type: Government Entity, Nonprofit, Elementary / Secondary School, College / University

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Pennsylvania

Location of residency: Pennsylvania

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Planning projects "lay the groundwork" for future land acquisition, development and/or management of parks, recreational facilities, critical habitat, open space, natural areas, greenways, and river/watershed corridors.

Planning projects generally entail the use of specialized consultants and expert professionals to work with local citizens and organizations to develop a community or regional-based plan and planning study report.  

Municipalities and non-profit organizations are encouraged to work together to form partnerships to develop regional plans. For regional, multi-municipal conservation, watershed, greenways or trails plans, applicants need to work with county government planning organizations to integrate new plan findings and recommendations into existing comprehensive plans and existing planning policy documents. County and local planning entities must be invited to participate in the planning process through, for example, work on study committees. 

Combination Projects 

The Bureau will accept and fund projects that are a combination of compatible planning project types for which the applicant is eligible for funding. Common examples are: 

  • Swimming Pool Feasibility Study combined with a Master Site Development Plan for the same site; 
  • Trail Feasibility Study and/or a Master Site Development Plan combined with a Comprehensive Recreation, Open Space and Greenways Plan.

Planning Project Types

Comprehensive Recreation, Park and Open Space Plan and/or Greenways Plan - A municipal, county or regional-based plan that identifies the methods, resources, organizational capacity and capital investment needed to accomplish both short-term and long-term recreation, open space and/or greenways goals of the community. The planning process must include substantial citizen involvement, inventory of existing conditions and facilities, analysis of issues and community needs, and specific recommendations that set forth actions, priorities and costs.

Land Conservation and Stewardship Plan - Inventory, analysis and recommendations to establish acquisition priorities and/or a longterm management plan for the preservation and environmental protection of specific natural areas or important environmental aspects of specific regions. These studies usually entail substantial research conducted by experts in critical habitat identification and assessment and substantial mapping of sensitive environmental areas and important habitat areas.

Feasibility Study (FS) - Swimming Pool Complex Feasibility Studies are professionally prepared studies to determine community support, market characteristics, physical/structural assessment and the legal and financial capability to acquire, develop or rehabilitate, manage and sustain a swimming pool complex. A swimming pool complex includes the pool, bath house, concession, parking, and other site amenities. Note: Completion of a Swimming Pool Complex Feasibility Study is required for submission of a Community Partnerships development grant application. Read more information here.

Master Site Development Plan (MSDP) - A site-specific project that includes research, public input and an analysis process that leads to a size, type and location plan for the full development or redevelopment of a park or other recreational-use site. The plan must meet all current standards and provide for the identified recreation and conservation priorities of the community to the maximum extent possible.

Rivers Conservation Plan - A comprehensive watershed or river corridor-based study requiring an inventory of existing natural, recreational and cultural resources, analysis of the issues, concerns and threats to river resources and values and specific recommendations that set forth priorities and actions. These studies lead to the development of a long-term watershed or river corridor management program. River Conservation studies are multi-community in scope and often undertaken in cooperation with non-profit organizations.

Pilot Program- Small Community Planning Initiative

DCNR has developed this Pilot Program as a special Planning Initiative designated exclusively for Small Communities. The Program will have the Grantee working directly with a qualified Design Consultant to engage the community in a public participation process that produces a Park Site Development Drawing, ready to go Construction Drawings and Bid Packet, along with a realistic project budget. DCNR will remain supportive and committed to advancing the development and/or rehabilitation of your community park through both the planning and development processes. Participation in this program will be limited.

  • Small Communities with populations of 2,500 or less
  • Size of the Park Site is between 5-8 acres
  • 100% of the Planning Costs will be covered by DCNR
  • Planning costs will be limited to no more than $10,000 and will be project dependent
  • Planning project will be completed in 1 – 1½ years
  • Upon completion the Grantee will be expected to move directly into the development and/or rehabilitation of the park site.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Who is an eligible applicant?
    • Municipalities - Any county, city, borough, incorporated town, township or home rule municipality
    • Municipal agencies - Any official agency created by a municipal government under the laws of the Commonwealth such as municipal authorities, Council of Governments (COG’s) and intergovernmental commissions.
    • Pre-qualified land trusts -  Non-profit conservation or preservation organizations, conservancies or land trusts that:
      • Have a primary purpose of conservation and preservation of critical habitat, open space, parklands or natural areas for public benefit;
      • Are tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986;
      • Are registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Charitable Organizations;
      • Have been in existence at least 5 consecutive years
    • Appropriate/authorized organizations - A non-profit entity involved in research, restoration, rehabilitation, planning, land acquisition, development, education or other activities, which furthers the protection, enhancement, conservation, preservation or enjoyment of this Commonwealth’s environmental, conservation, recreation or similar resources.
      • The organization (unless it is an educational institution) must be both tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and
      • registered with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Charitable Organizations (BCO). 
    • For-profit Enterprises - Eligible only for PA Recreational Trails, Snowmobile and All-Terrain Vehicle Program funding.
      • For the purposes of these programs, for-profit enterprises must be established under Pennsylvania law or must be authorized to do business in Pennsylvania under applicable Pennsylvania law.
  • Municipalities are eligible for the majority of our grant funding sources while there are limited funding sources for most private, non-profit organizations, with the exception of pre-qualified land trusts.
    • See Figure 2 and Figure 3 for Planning Project applicant eligibility by funding source. 
  • All projects must serve a public purpose and help advance DCNR goals and priorities.
  • All facilities/sites must be open for use by the general public
  • Match is required for all projects and is usually equal to the grant funds awarded


  • The Bureau places a greater priority for funding on regional projects than on a planning project for one municipality.