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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, and the national trails that provide recreation and wildlife corridors across our great nation are often incomplete and unprotected. 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 helps expand parks for all to experience and enjoy, as well as supporting new park units that tell a more complete American story and protect unique natural beauty. To do this, NPF leverages private funds to accomplish complex land transactions involving willing sellers, protecting priority lands forever.

Program Stories

Learn more about NPF's Land Conservation program and the projects it funds in parks.

View up from the ground towards a canopy of trees

By the Numbers - Since 2015

  • 37k
    Since 2015, NPF has protected over 37,000 acres across the national parks through land acquisition and partner support.
  • 8
    Gifts of Land
    NPF has accepted and donated eight gifts of land to the National Park Service for their preservation.
  • $143
    NPF has provided over $143 million in real property and grants since 2015.
  • 6
    New National Park Sites
    NPF's Land Conservation program has supported establishment of six 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. NPF will also engage directly in the transaction on an as-needed basis upon the request of NPS.
  • 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 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 the civil rights activists. To support NPS’ 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. In 2023, in anticipation of the 60th anniversary of Medgar Evers's assassination, NPF supported the Trust for Public Land's transformation of vacant lots into an outdoor education space and garden area adjacent to the home site.

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 helped 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 successful acquisitions in 2022 and 2023. NPF continues to support and facilitate conservation at the site towards the goal of one day opening this location to commemoration and visitor interpretation.

Earth mound covered in green grass
Adding 1,200 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 the park in 2022. The addition protects a Native American cultural site, as well as a riparian landscape within an urban community. The 900 acres purchased were the first piece of a 3,000-acre, larger acquisition project, and later that same year NPF and partners supported NPS' acquistion of another 250-acre parcel. 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.

A narrow grassy path leads to a river
Preserving Tallahatchie County Courthouse & Graball Landing

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of NPF and its donors, including the Mellon Foundation and Fund II Foundation, a new National Park Service site will preserve the story and legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley, a crucial chapter of American history and the civil rights movement. NPF has contributed nearly $3 million, with full support from the Mellon Foundation’s Monuments Project initiative and Fund II Foundation, to enable the preservation of the Till family’s story in context of this new park site, as well as the first year of staffing required to interpret the history and story of the historical courthouse.

Program Updates