LWCF program requirements
Acceptance of LWCF funding requires the grant recipient to assume responsibility for compliance with the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965 and the program requirements therein, as well as all applicable Federal, State and Local laws.
In signing the LWCF grant agreement with DCR, the applicant accepts the responsibility for compliance including the consequences of non-compliance.
A brief description of several but not all of the requirements are given below.
- Public Outdoor Recreation in perpetuity — Lands acquired and/or developed with LWCF funds must be opened to the public and maintained in perpetuity for public outdoor recreation. In rare instances, a portion of an LWCF site may be converted to another use with permission of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and approval of the National Park Service (NPS). In instances where there is no feasible alternative to converting, either in full or in part, the protected area, Section 6(f) of the federal Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965 is triggered. This section requires that the conversion of use process be initiated to seek approval from the NPS for the conversion. Conversions are not a right. Alternatives to impacting the protected area must be investigated and evidence given that there is no feasible alternative. Conversions are situation specific and decided on a case by case basis. In all cases, the sponsor will be required to develop an environmental assessment for the conversion project and purchase replacement property of equal or greater fair market value and equal or greater recreational usefulness as a replacement. The process involves many steps and takes, at a minimum, one year from initiation by the sponsor with DCR to formal approval by the National Park Service.
- Environmental, Historical and Cultural Resources — All projects must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act and the Historic Preservation Act. All projects carry potential impacts to the environment (stream sedimentation, noxious weeds, wildlife displacement, habitat fragmentation, visual, potential noise, etc.). Sponsors should review Phase II of the grant process, the “Environmental Review and Public Commenting” phase in the LWCF grant manual. In addition to demonstrating compliance with the Endangered Species Act and Historic Preservation Act, all conversions require an Environmental Assessment document for NEPA compliance. This document is submitted as part of the conversion package the NPS requires for approval.
- Public Comment — All proposals selected to advance to the Environmental Review and Public Commenting phase of the grant process will be required to solicit public comment. Directions for the Public Comment solicitation are provided in the LWCF grant manual.
- Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — All projects must comply with ADA. All projects must be accessible to (and usable by) disabled citizens. The intent is to enable disabled citizens to participate in outdoor recreation activities in a way that parallels as closely as possible participation of non-disabled citizens
- Compliance with the Civil Rights Act.
- Overhead Power Lines — Overhead lines (both electrical or communication) must be installed underground. Existing lines must be buried, removed or relocated as necessary. Future lines must be underground
- Procurement, Contracts and Bidding — Sponsors receiving federal LWCF assistance must comply with all applicable local, state and federal requirements regarding contracts and bidding. This includes but is not limited to compliance with the Virginia Public Procurement Act, the Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Cooperative Agreements to State and Local Governments, the Administrative and Audit Requirements and Cost Principles for Assistance Programs, Department of Interior, Cost Principles for State and Local Governments and Audits of State and Local Governments as these relate to the application, acceptance and use of federal funds for assistance.
- Quarterly Reports — All grantees are required to submit quarterly status reports during the life of the grant
- Expenditures Documentation — Invoices and proof of payment for eligible reimbursable items must be submitted with all reimbursement requests. Only expenditures incurred within the approved LWCF project period are eligible for reimbursement. Expenses incurred prior to authorization of the LWCF grant agreement or after the expiration date are ineligible for reimbursement.
- Acknowledgment Sign — LWCF requires that all recreation areas assisted by the program post a sign acknowledging the assistance. DCR has a standardized sign available for purchase through the Virginia State Park Logistics Center .The sign must be posted in a prominent public area visible to all visitors. In order to receive final reimbursement on a grant, evidence of the sign posted at the park must be provided. Purchase of the sign is eligible for reimbursement, by including a copy of the order form (PDF) and proof of payment in the final reimbursement request.
- Restrictive Deed Wording — Section 6(f)(3) of the Land and Water Conservation Act states that: “No property acquired or developed with assistance under this section shall without approval of the Secretary [of the Interior] be converted to other than public outdoor recreation uses.” The LWCF program realizes that in certain instances there is no alternative to converting a portion of a LWCF property. In those extreme cases where there is no alternative, the Project Sponsor must begin a conversion of use process with DCR. In short, the conversion of use process requires that a suitable piece of replacement property be found before a conversion occurs at a LWCF site. “Suitable” means equivalent in fair market value and can serve as a viable public outdoor recreation area without reliance upon adjoining or additional areas. In order for the section 6(f)(3) regulation to be enforced, the following language is to be incorporated into the deed and recorded in the city, town or county courthouse of the project area: The property identified herein has been acquired or developed with federal assistance provided by the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior in accordance with the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 4601-5 et seq. (170 ed.). Pursuant to a requirement of that law, this property may not be converted to other than public outdoor recreation uses (whether by transfer, sale, or in any other manner) without the express written approval of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the secretary of the Department of the Interior. By law, the secretary shall approve such conversion only if it is in accord with the then existing Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) and only upon such condition as the substitution of other recreation properties are of at least equal fair market value and of reasonably equivalent usefulness and location. All grantees must include this language in the deed for their LWCF assisted site.
- Retention of Records — All documents related to the LWCF project, should be retained in perpetuity. These papers include project agreements, correspondence, deeds, as built plans, inquiries regarding proposed changes at the park, the legal Section 6 (f) metes and bounds map, and grant application materials. Also all financial records, and documents used for verifying your reimbursement including bid information must be retained for a period of three years with the following qualifications:
- If any litigation, claim, or audit is started prior to the expiration of the three years, the records shall be retained until all such actions have been resolved.
- Records for non-expendable property acquired with fund assistance shall be retained three years after its final disposition.
- Operation and Use — All LWCF assisted areas must be open to the public (everyone) during reasonable hours of operation. Hours of operation should be determined according to the type of area or facility being operated and in relation to the seasons of the year.
- Maintenance — LWCF assisted properties must receive regular maintenance to ensure continuing public use in a safe and sanitary manner.
- Fees — Reasonable user fees may be charged by the sponsor to offset operation and maintenance costs. Sponsors may charge a higher fee to non-residents as long as the higher fee is realistic, comparable to what is charged at other local parks and does not preclude use by non-residents and is no more than twice the residential fees.
- Inspections — Inspections are regularly performed on LWCF assisted areas to monitor the project sponsors compliance with program requirements. Recreation areas found in non-compliance will be notified in writing of the problems and a time frame for remediation. In cases, where inspections discover conversions of use, DCR will provide direction to the sponsor on the Conversion of Use process and a time frame for initiating it.