DCNR Land Acquisition and Conservation Grants

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources (DCNR)

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Apr 22, 2020

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: Pennsylvania

Location of residency: Pennsylvania

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These projects involve the purchase and/or donation of land for park and recreation areas, greenways, critical habitat areas and/or open space.

Land Acquisition Project Types

Park and Recreation Areas 

Area of land and/or water, for use as a neighborhood, community or regional public park and recreation site. Property may be acquired for active and/or passive recreation use to create new park and recreation areas and/or expand existing recreational sites.

Greenways and Rivers Conservation

  • Greenways – Area of land and/or water which provides a linear recreation, conservation or open space corridor along a natural or man-made feature. 
  • Rivers Conservation – Area of land and/or water, which promotes rivers conservation within river segments or watersheds. Projects should be listed on the Pennsylvania Rivers Conservation Registry or recommended in an approved Rivers Conservation Plan.

Natural and Critical Habitat Areas

  • Natural Area – Area of land and/or water, which is important in preserving flora, fauna, native ecological systems, geological, natural, historical, open space, scenic or similar features of scientific or educational value. 
  • Critical Habitat – Area of land and/or water, which provides habitat for rare, threatened or endangered plant and animal species or ecological or natural communities which are at risk of destruction or substantial degradation.

Sample Project Descriptions

Land Acquisition Project 

Acquisition of approximately 17 acres located in Green Township, Pocono County, for an addition to the Evergreen Nature Preserve, providing wildlife habitat, watershed protection and recreation opportunities connection to the existing County trail.

Easement Project 

Acquisition of a conservation easement on approximately 200 acres in Wheatfield Township, Jackson County, along Frog Creek Road and close to the Frog Creek Road Bridge, to provide for open space and greenway protection.

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). 
  • Other Requirements and Guidelines:
    • All projects must serve a public purpose and help advance DCNR goals & priorities.
    • Land Acquisition grant applicants may submit more than one application per funding period.
    • All awarded Land Acquisition funds must be equally matched.
    • Grants may be used for purchase of fee simple title to real property or a less than fee interest such as a perpetual easement.
    • When assisting with the acquisition of an easement, DCNR is seeking as much public value as possible, while retaining flexibility to address special site conditions and respond to local needs on a case-by-case basis.
      • This often translates into significant public access to the property; however, this public access is balanced against environmental, historical, cultural, safety, water quality and other considerations to arrive at an optimal solution. 
      • The need to protect critical habitat can override the interest in providing public access.
      • Public access should be considered in a multi-dimensional fashion involving various portions of the property, for various activities at various times and levels. 
      • Reasonable restrictions on the time and manner of public access, as well as temporary limitations on public access for protecting or restoring the land, are acceptable. 
      • The Department reserves the right to determine the percentage of participation in an easement project at its sole discretion. 
    • All municipal recreation land acquisition projects must be open to public uses consistent with purposes for which the land was acquired. 
  • Eligible Activities/Match can be found here.


  • Priority is given to protecting critical habitat.
  • “Public Value and Use” is to be addressed in the Grant Application. The overall level of public value will be considered in rating and ranking individual grant applications. 
    • Public access is NOT required for Land Trust (as defined in the Keystone legislation) acquisition projects (fee simple or easement) but it is encouraged.


  • Land Acquisition Ineligible Activities/Costs can be found here.
  • As a general policy, the Department will not approve grant funding in areas where local elected officials have expressed opposition to the proposed project.
  • Grants are awarded to assist with projects to be undertaken after the award of the grant, rather than to retroactively pay (reimburse) for projects already begun or completed before the award of the grant. Therefore, grant funds generally may not be applied to project costs incurred before the date of the grant award. 
    • In special situations, the Bureau may permit grant funds to be applied to project costs incurred before the date of the grant award. Refer to the "Bureau Policy- “Waiver for Retroactivity”.