a group of Department of Defense employees stand together after a successful National Public Lands Day project

NPLD Department of Defense Award Frequently Asked Questions

What are the National Public Lands Day Department of Defense Awards?

The Department of Defense (DoD) Legacy Resource Management Program (Legacy Program) provides funds to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) for National Public Lands Day (NPLD) partnership projects on military lands that are open to the public for recreation. Funds are available for base-level projects on any DoD site that supports the goals of NPLD to improve the quality of public lands and to educate the public about natural resource issues and stewardship on military lands that are open to the public for recreation.

For 2023, DoD is asking applicants to think creatively about how they can positively impact the environment and help participants to learn about these lands and their cultural elements. How can DoD Natural and Cultural Resources Managers lead NPLD events that advance environmental stewardship while focusing on pollinator protection, climate resilience, restoration, and conservation management projects? We seek proposals that enhance broader strategic or programmatic initiatives at installations. Applications for the 2023 NPLD DoD Awards are due by 11:59pm (EDT) on Friday, July 14, 2023.  

What is the date of NPLD this year?

Saturday, September 23, 2023.

Who is eligible for DoD funds?

NPLD projects that take place on DoD lands that are open for recreation, including those managed by the US Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard, or Navy. Lands managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers are not eligible for Legacy Award funds. 

FY23 NEEF NPLD criterion specifies that NEEF will fund NPLD projects on military lands that are open for recreation. Does this mean the installation must be open to the public?

For example: Some installations are not open to the general public, but are open to active duty, retired military, and the civilian employee public; these individuals will be participating in the NPLD event. Do we qualify for NPLD funding? In addition, many installations only allow the public onto the base for special events and/or with DoD escort. Do those installations qualify for NPLD funding?

Although we encourage the public’s participation in NPLD events, it is not absolutely required. You also qualify and may apply for NEEF NPLD funding if:

  • your event includes volunteers/participants who are: active duty, retired military, and civilian employees.
  • the general public is only allowed to participate in the event with the assistance of military escort while on the installation.

Said another way, the inability for the general public to freely participate in NPLD events does NOT disqualify you from applying for and receiving funding, if you meet one of the above two situations.

Can a civil contractor that works for DoD apply for funds?

No, a civil contractor that works for DoD is not eligible for funds. However, a civil contractor can apply through an installation.

How can I apply for a NPLD DoD Legacy Award?

All applications are submitted online. Click here to apply!

When are the applications due?

Applications are due on July 14, 2023. Click here to apply.

How much funding is available, per site?

Each site can apply for up to $20,000 with a $5,000 minimum.

If multiple projects are planned, can a site submit more than one application?

 Yes, a site can submit more than one application.

How is money distributed to the sites?

NEEF is able to send funds directly to awarded sites via electronic payment. Checks are available upon request, but the site must be able to accept and cash checks and award checks cannot be made out to individuals. NEEF is also able to make direct purchases for materials and supplies via credit card and directly send payments to vendors.

What is covered by the Legacy Program funds?

Funds may be used for tools, equipment, materials, and enhancements to public (military) lands.

Award funds may NOT be used for:

  • Lobbying, propaganda, or attempting to influence legislation
  • Influencing the outcome of any specific election by any means
  • Covering budget shortfalls, general support or endowment funds
  • Land acquisition or real estate purchases
  • Giveaways or gift item, such as t-shirts
  • Purchasing food*
  • Paying for labor or salary costs
  • Scholarships, fellowships or grants to individuals
  • Any costs not directly related to the funds requested in the proposal

NOTE: Purchasing items required to complete work (e.g., small tools, garden gloves) is allowable.

*Federal funds cannot be used to pay for food and beverages unless doing so is reasonable and necessary (i.e., providing water at an outdoor event where there is no other source of water is allowable).

Do all NPLD events have to be held on September 23, 2023?

No, but it is encouraged. Project dates that take place two weeks prior or any time post-NPLD are acceptable.

Regardless of the scheduled date of the project, all applicants must register their event for National Public Lands Day. Register here. 

What are the themes of this year's NPLD DoD Awards?

DoD is asking applicants to think creatively about how they can positively impact the environment and help participants to learn about these lands and their cultural elements This year’s themes are pollinator protection, climate resilience, restoration, and conservation management projects. We seek proposals that enhance broader strategic or programmatic initiatives at installations. NEEF is still expanding hosting options for 2023 NPLD. Installations will have the option to host in-person events, and/or virtual events. Please visit our NEEF resource page to see how other public lands sites are hosting virtual events.

What are the responsibilities of the site manager after being awarded funds?

It is the responsibility of site managers to submit check request forms and a final report/evaluation. Awarded sites are required to complete a final report/evaluation that will document the site improvements. Satisfactory final report/evaluations include a detailed description of accomplishments and how the funds were spent. Pictures and videos of the event are highly encouraged. Final report/evaluations are forwarded to the DoD Legacy Program Office as project documentation for each site. Site managers who have a history of hosting NPLD events through the NPLD DoD Legacy Award are encouraged to ask about our rolling application process for the 2024 NPLD DoD Legacy Award.

Whom should I contact with questions about the award or the application process?

Contact NEEF's Grants Department at grantsadmin@neefusa.org.