The Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development (OSLAD) Program is a state-financed grant program that provides funding assistance to local government agencies for acquisition and/or development of land for public parks and open space. The federal Land & Water Conservation Fund program (known as both LWCF and LAWCON) is a similar program with similar objectives. Both are managed in Illinois by the Department of Natural Resources with concurrent application due dates, equal grant maximums and similar general rules.
Projects vary from small neighborhood parks or tot lots to large community and county parks and nature areas. The state program is financed by a percentage of the state's Real Estate Transfer Tax. The federal program is financed nationally by revenue from offshore oil and gas leases.
Under both programs, funding assistance up to 50% (90% for distressed communities - OSLAD program only) of approved project costs can be obtained. Grant awards up to $750,000 are available for acquisition projects, while development/renovation projects (OSLAD programs only) are limited to a $400,000 grant maximum.
Written applications must be submitted to IDNR between May 1 and July 1 of each calendar year, with grant awards typically announced by December or January. Only those local government agencies having statutory authority to acquire and develop land for public park purposes are eligible to apply for and receive assistance under the OSLAD and LWCF grant programs.
Applications are evaluated and prioritized for funding assistance based upon recreation priorities and criteria identified in the Department's Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP). Lands acquired with OSLAD or LWCF funds are required to be operated and maintained in perpetuity for public outdoor recreation.
Examples of eligible projects include:
- Acquisition of land for new park sites or park expansion, water frontage, nature study, and natural resource preservation.
- Development/Renovation of:
- picnic and playground facilities;
- outdoor nature interpretive facilities;
- sports courts and play fields;
- swimming pools, beaches and bathhouses;
- campgrounds and fishing piers;
- winter sports facilities;
- park roads and paths, parking, utilities and restrooms; and
- architectural/engineering (A/E) services necessary for proper design and construction of approved project components.
You can download the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program Manual or the Land and Water Conservation Manual and Application below. Applications must be completed and submitted in paper format. The Online Application System is currently not available.