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Application Period for OSLAD Park Development Grants Opens July 1

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) will accept applications for the next round of Open Space Land Acquisition and Development (OSLAD)grants from July 1 through September 13. OSLAD is a matching grant program that provides significant support for the acquisition and development of land for public parks and outdoor recreation areas.

This year, a total of $54 million is available for OSLAD grants. These grants are particularly beneficial to local governmental agencies, as they offer an advance payment of 50% of the grant award amount for development projects shortly after the grant agreement is executed. To receive the remaining funds, the local agency must demonstrate and possess the ability to finance the rest of the project’s cost. Furthermore, IDNR will cover 100% of eligible projects located in economically distressed communities, a provision that aims to support underserved areas. In the most recent round of OSLAD awards announced in January, 32 underserved locations received grants for local park projects.

“I encourage any community that is considering a park development or improvement project to apply for an OSLAD grant. Parks and green spaces are the heart of our neighborhoods and communities,” said IDNR Director Natalie Phelps Finnie. "Everyone belongs in nature. An investment in the outdoors is an investment in the health and well-being of the people of Illinois.”

Established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1986, the OSLAD program has become one of the most popular grant programs in Illinois, awarding over $585 million for park projects since its inception. The program is funded through a percentage of Illinois' Real Estate Transfer Tax.

Entities interested in applying must be registered and current in the state's Grant Accountability and Transparency Act grantee portal. All applications will be accepted online through the Amplifund portal and must be submitted by 5 p.m. on September 13, 2024.

To assist applicants, IDNR staff, along with the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD), will offer a training webinar to demonstrate how to complete an application in Amplifund. The webinar will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, September 17.

For more information and to access the list of communities considered economically distressed, applicants are encouraged to visit the IDNR website.

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