(a) Background and legal requirements. Section 6(f)(3) of the L&WCF Act is the cornerstone of Federal compliance efforts to ensure that the Federal investments in L&WCF assistance are being maintained in public outdoor recreation use. This section of the Act assures that once an area has been funded with L&WCF assistance, it is continually maintained in public recreation use unless NPS approves substitution property of reasonably equivalent usefulness and location and of at least equal fair market value.
(b) Prerequisites for conversion approval. Requests from the project sponsor for permission to convert L&WCF assisted properties in whole or in part to other than public outdoor recreation uses must be submitted by the State Liaison Officer to the appropriate NPS Regional Director in writing. NPS will consider conversion requests if the following prerequisites have been met:
(1) All practical alternatives to the proposed conversion have been evaluated.
(2) The fair market value of the property to be converted has been established and the property proposed for substitution is of at least equal fair market value as established by an approved appraisal (prepared in accordance with uniform Federal appraisal standards) excluding the value of structures or facilities that will not serve a recreation purpose.
(3) The property proposed for replacement is of reasonably equivalent usefulness and location as that being converted. Dependent upon the situation and at the discretion of the Regional Director, the replacement property need not provide identical recreation experiences or be located at the same site, provided it is in a reasonably equivalent location. Generally, the replacement property should be administered by the same political jurisdiction as the converted property. NPS will consider State requests to change the project sponsor when it is determined that a different political jurisdiction can better carry out the objectives of the original project agreement. Equivalent usefulness and location will be determined based on the following criteria:
(i) Property to be converted must be evaluated in order to determine what recreation needs are being fulfilled by the facilities which exist and the types of outdoor recreation resources and opportunities available. The property being proposed for substitution must then be evaluated in a similar manner to determine if it will meet recreation needs which are at least like in magnitude and impact to the user community as the converted site. This criterion is applicable in the consideration of all conversion requests with the exception of those where wetlands are proposed as replacement property. Wetland areas and interests therein which have been identified in the wetlands provisions of the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan shall be considered to be of reasonably equivalent usefulness with the property proposed for conversion regardless of the nature of the property proposed for conversion.
(ii) Replacement property need not necessarily be directly adjacent to or close by the converted site. This policy provides the administrative flexibility to determine location recognizing that the property should meet existing public outdoor recreation needs. While generally this will involve the selection of a site serving the same community(ies) or area as the converted site, there may be exceptions. For example, if property being converted is in an area undergoing major demographic change and the area has no existing or anticipated future need for outdoor recreation, then the project sponsor should seek to locate the substitute area in another location within the jurisdiction. Should a local project sponsor be unable to replace converted property, the State would be responsible, as the primary recipient of Federal assistance, for assuring compliance with these regulations and the substitution of replacement property.
(iii) The acquisition of one parcel of land may be used in satisfaction of several approved conversions.
(4) The property proposed for substitution meets the eligibility requirements for L&WCF assisted acquisition. The replacement property must constitute or be part of a viable recreation area. Unless each of the following additional conditions is met, land currently in public ownership, including that which is owned by another public agency, may not be used as replacement land for land acquired as part of an L&WCF project:
(i) The land was not acquired by the sponsor or selling agency for recreation.
(ii) The land has not been dedicated or managed for recreational purposes while in public ownership.
(iii) No Federal assistance was provided in the original acquisition unless the assistance was provided under a program expressly authorized to match or supplement L&WCF assistance.
(iv) Where the project sponsor acquires the land from another public agency, the selling agency must be required by law to receive payment for the land so acquired.
In the case of development projects for which the State match was not derived from the cost of the purchase or value of a donation of the land to be converted, but from the value of the development itself, public land which has not been dedicated or managed for recreation/conservation use may be used as replacement land even if this land is transferred from one public agency to another without cost.
(5) In the case of assisted sites which are partially rather than wholly converted, the impact of the converted portion on the remainder shall be considered. If such a conversion is approved, the unconverted area must remain recreationally viable or be replaced as well.
(6) All necessary coordination with other Federal agencies has been satisfactorily accomplished including, for example, compliance with section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966.
(7) The guidelines for environmental evaluation have been satisfactorily completed and considered by NPS during its review of the proposed 6(f)(3) action. In cases where the proposed conversion arises from another Federal action, final review of the State's proposal shall not occur until the NPS Regional office is assured that all environmental review requirements related to that other action have been met.
(8) State intergovernmental clearinghouse review procedures have been adhered to if the proposed conversion and substitution constitute significant changes to the original Land and Water Conservation Fund project.
(9) The proposed conversion and substitution are in accord with the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) and/or equivalent recreation plans.
(c) Amendments for conversion. All conversions require amendments to the original project agreements. Therefore, amendment requests should be submitted concurrently with conversion requests or at such time as all details of the conversion have been worked out with NPS. Section 6(f)(3) project boundary maps shall be submitted with the amendment request to identify the changes to the original area caused by the proposed conversion and to establish a new project area pursuant to the substitution. Once the conversion has been approved, replacement property should be immediately acquired. Exceptions to this rule would occur only when it is not possible for replacement property to be identified prior to the State's request for a conversion. In such cases, an express commitment to satisfy section 6(f)(3) substitution requirements within a specified period, normally not to exceed one year following conversion approval, must be received from the State. This commitment will be in the form of an amendment to the grant agreement.
(d) Obsolete facilities. Recipients are not required to continue operation of a particular facility beyond its useful life. However, when a facility is declared obsolete, the site must nonetheless be maintained for public outdoor recreation following discontinuance of the assisted facility. Failure to so maintain is considered to be a conversion. Requests regarding changes from a L&WCF funded facility to another otherwise eligible facility at the same site that significantly contravene the original plans for the area must be made in writing to the Regional Director. NPS approval must be obtained prior to the occurrence of the change. NPS approval is not necessarily required, however, for each and every facility use change. Rather, a project area should be viewed in the context of overall use and should be monitored in this context. A change from a baseball field to a football field, for example, would not require NPS approval. A change from a swimming pool with substantial recreational development to a less intense area of limited development such as a passive park, or vice versa, would, however, require NPS review and approval. To assure that facility changes do not significantly contravene the original project agreement, NPS shall be notified by the State of all proposed changes in advance of their occurrence. A primary NPS consideration in the review of requests for changes in use will be the consistency of the proposal with the Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan and/or equivalent recreation plans. Changes to other than public outdoor recreation use require NPS approval and the substitution of replacement land in accordance with section 6(f)(3) of the L&WCF Act and paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section.
[51 FR 34184, Sept. 25, 1986, as amended at 52 FR 22747, June 15, 1987]