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Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program (OSLAD)
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

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 OSOD 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.

Clearwater Park, Bloomington
Clearwater Park, Bloomington

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.
Complete and Submit your OSLAD / LWCF Application using the new ONLINE application system. This is a direct submital of your application.
For a copy of the current manual and application forms, please download the Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development Program /Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant manual Link to OSLAD Manual. You will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.x or above to view this file.

Using Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or above, applications can be completed on a computer and submitted in paper format. Instructions are available by clicking here.


Download the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Playground Planning Guide
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Return to the Grants-in-Aid Programs Page


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