Skip to Content
Arrowleaf Balsamroot around Antelope Flats, Grand Teton National Park

Land Conservation

Antelope Flats in Grand Teton National Park
NPS Photo / D. Lehle


Protecting threatened lands in perpetuity.

Within the boundaries of the 420+ sites in the National Park System, over two million acres remain privately-owned. To conserve the most significant and threatened lands in our national parks, the National Park Foundation (NPF) works with the National Park Service (NPS) and nonprofit partners to acquire these properties and add them to the parks.

NPF's Land Conservation program also helps expand parks for all to experience and enjoy, as well as supporting new park units that tell lesser-known stories and protect unique natural beauty. To do this, NPF leverages private funds to accomplish complex land transactions involving willing sellers, protecting priority lands forever. NPF has partnered with NPS on land conservation projects since its founding in 1967, permanently protecting over 135,000 acres in 66 national parks since our inception.

View up from the ground towards a canopy of trees
By the Numbers - Since 2015
  • 35k
    Since 2015, NPF has protected over 35,000 acres across the national parks through land acquisition and partner support.
  • 7
    Gifts of Land
    NPF has accepted and donated seven gifts of land to the National Park Service for their preservation.
  • $140
    NPF has provided over $140 million in real property and grants since 2015.
  • 5
    New National Park Sites
    NPF's Land Conservation program has supported establishment of five new national park sites through land acquisition.
Types of Support

The NPF Land Conservation program depends upon the support of donors to meet NPS' needs. Philanthropic dollars enable several types of grants to protect land.

A hiker with a walking stick wades through a shallow pool of water within a canyon base
Catalyst Grants
These grants allow NPS and partners to be nimble in acquiring vulnerable lands from incompatible development. These grants, ranging from $20,000 to $50,000, support pre-acquisition costs such as appraisals, title work, environmental site assessments, and property surveys. These grants enable NPF's conservation partners – including land trusts and friends groups – to fast-track portions of the acquisition process.
  • Rolling hills with autumnal colored foliage lead down to a still lake
    Signature Projects
    Philanthropic contributions of over $50,000 are leveraged with federal, state, and nonprofit dollars to fund the purchase price of private land from willing sellers. Purchase grants are especially helpful for "edgeholdings," or properties that sit on the edge of national parks and are not yet within the authority of NPS to acquire.
  • Waterfall over a stone cliff onto a rocky stream below
    Revolving Fund
    NPF is standing up a revolving fund of $1 million+ to enable nonprofit partners to buy properties and convey them to NPS. Proceeds from the sale of these properties revolve back to NPF for future priority acquisitions.
  • Two story red brick house sits on a hill of freshly mown grass, surrounded by a white picket fence
    Gifts of property such as land, buildings, and other real property can be donated for conservation value or for resale value. As a qualified nonprofit, NPF can receive the gift and support a tax deduction for the donor. NPF then either donates the land to NPS or sells the property to generate revenue to support NPS.

Program Highlights

A riparian, tupelo and cypress tree swamp and creek
214 Acres of Pristine River Bank Habitat

In 2018, NPF made a $536,000 Signature Grant to the Friends of Congaree Swamp, and a $50,000 Catalyst Grant to the Open Space Institute, to purchase the 214-acre Running Creek property from Weyerhaeuser to be added to the Park. After a multi-year boundary expansion process, the property was donated to NPS in 2021. The addition preserves three miles of river frontage and important old-growth bottomland hardwood habitat, as well as increases public access for boating and fishing and preserves both banks of the creek.

Aerial photo of Berg Bay
A Tribal Land Project

In September 2020, The Conservation Fund, Hoonah Indian Association, the National Park Service, and NPF announced the addition of a 150-acre cultural site to Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Southeast Alaska. The addition to the park, which sits at the head of Berg Bay, is a sacred site for the Huna Tlingit and is managed in collaboration with the Hoonah Indian Association, a federally recognized tribal government through a unique conservation easement. The land provides opportunities for tribal members to engage in traditional cultural practices and supports public access to fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities.

A single-story ranch-style house with light brown brick and teal siding
Protecting the Legacy of Civil Rights Icons

In December 2020, Acting Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, designated the home of Medgar and Myrlie Evers and their family as a national monument, to honor the lives and sacrifices of civil rights activists Medgar and Myrlie. To support NPS’s acquisition of the property, NPF paid for a property survey, title work, and environmental site assessments for the home of the civil rights leaders and nearby vacant land.

Close up of underside of a tree
A Former Market for Enslaved People Protected

In 2017, Congress authorized the addition of the Forks of the Road site to Natchez National Historical Park. Prior to the Civil War, the Forks of the Road market was the second largest market for the sale of enslaved persons in the Deep South. NPF is helping NPS acquire properties within the new Forks of the Road site, and during the Natchez Juneteenth celebration in 2021, NPS announced the successful acquisition of the first two tracts at the site, with additional acquisitions anticipated in future years.

Earth mound covered in green grass
Adding 900 Acres to Ocmulgee Mounds

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park is a unique urban park that tells the story of 17,000 years of continuous human habitation of the Ocmulgee basin. NPF was among several partners that helped add a 900-acre property to Ocmulgee Mounds National Historic Park. The addition protects a Native American cultural site, as well as a riparian landscape within an urban community. The 900 acres purchased are the first piece of a 3,000-acre, larger acquisition project, and NPF and partners are working with willing sellers to continue the process to preserve the culturally significant and sacred land of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation from the threat of development.

Program Updates