Other Federal Funding Programs

Creative land trusts have used a wide array of federal programs to support their conservation work.  The Land Trust Alliance highlights major public funding programs here. We also encourage you to explore the helpful information in Trust For Public Land’s Conservation Almanac and Conservation Finance webpages.

State Wildlife Grants

The federal State Wildlife Grants Program is our nation’s core program for preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. It funds the state wildlife action plans and provides annual funding for state wildlife agencies to implement these plans.  Many states re-grant these funds to partners like land trusts and the plans themselves are a useful tool for land trusts to prioritize acquisition and stewardship decisions.

The Land Trust Alliance and more than 300 land trusts are members of the Teaming with Wildlife Coalition working to secure increased funding for wildlife. More information from:

Land and Water Conservation Fund

The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program supports the protection of federal public lands and waters – including national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and recreation areas – and voluntary conservation on private land. LWCF investments secure public access, improve recreational opportunities, and preserve ecosystem benefits for local communities.

LWCF State Grants program

Provides matching grants to state and tribal governments for the acquisition and development of public parks and other outdoor recreation sites. Grants have funded projects in every county in the country, over 40,000 projects since 1965. The State side of LWCF is administered by the State and Local Assistance Programs Division, which also oversees Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) and Federal Lands to Parks (FLP) programs.

Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund

Cooperative grants established under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act provide funds to states and territories to work with qualifying private landowners, conservation organizations, and other partners to protect and conserve the habitat of threatened and endangered species.

Forest Legacy Program

Provides grants for conservation easements or land purchases through state partners to protect environmentally sensitive forest lands while maintaining private ownership and working forests. Learn more about U.S. Forest Service Stewardship Financing
of Forest Legacy Conservation Easements here.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act

North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants increase bird populations and wetland habitat, while supporting local economies and American traditions such as hunting, fishing, bird watching, family farming, and cattle ranching. Wetlands protected by NAWCA provide valuable benefits such as flood control, reducing coastal erosion, improving water and air quality, and recharging groundwater.

Farm Bill

The Farm Bill conservation programs, taken in total, are the largest single federal source of funding for private land conservation. Farm bill programs create significant opportunities for land trusts to protect high-priority farm and ranch lands, grasslands, wetlands and forests. As detailed by the U.S.  Department of Agriculture, the 2018 Farm Bill, P.L. 115-334, is a five-year legislative appropriation that supports numerous programs that allow USDA to carry out its vital mission of serving rural America, creating jobs, and providing a safety net for Americans in need. The 2018 Farm Bill also builds on the “Forestry” title from the 2014 Farm Bill and includes additional conservation authorities for the Forest Service. More.

Federal Highway Conservation Funding

Although reauthorization measures are pending as of 2020, provisions under the 2005 highway bill (SAFETEA-LU) and the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act provided funding for several programs of interest to land trusts. In particular, since 1992 the Transportation Enhancements program has provided over $10 billion for projects such as:  acquisition of scenic or historic easements and sites, Conversion of abandoned railway corridors to trails and environmental mitigation of highways. More.

Online Catalog of Federal Funding for Watershed Protection

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides the Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection online as an easy to use, searchable website. The site provides information for watershed practitioners and others on 84 Federal funding sources that may be available to help fund various watershed-related projects. View the Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection.

To search for funding opportunities and apply for Federal financial assistance go to the official United States government financial assistance portal at http://www.grants.gov/.

News on Federal Programs from the Trust for Public Land

Check the Trust for Public Land’s policy & legislation webpage for a helpful summary of other federal funding programs and archives of Washington Watch, a newsletter with timely information and highlights on public policy issues and federal funding opportunities that relate to land conservation. TPL’s Conservation Almanac also includes a comprehensive list of federal funding programs.