It's like philanthropy benefiting environmental reporters who need good local stories. The nonprofit newsroom InvestigateWest has given us a database of some 40,000 federal grants under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Under a 1964 law, some federal revenues from offshore drilling are supposed to be set aside for grants to help state and local governments acquire parkland for recreation and conservation. But cash-strapped state and local governments today are sometimes selling off those lands to raise money — and that's illegal. In other cases those governments convert parks to other municipal uses without replacing them as legally required.
Seattle-based InvestigateWest published a feature package last summer documenting examples in Michigan, New York City, and Oklahoma. They could not cover all the other states — that was left for you to do.
- "Broken Promise: Database Helps Track Illegal Parkland Conversions," SEJournal, April 15, 2013, by Robert McClure and Jason Alcorn.
- "Pledges Forgotten, Local Governments Repurpose Federally Funded Parks," InvestigateWest, June 11, 2012, by Robert McClure.
- InvestigateWest's LWCF Grants Database (searchable).