Governor Steve Bullock declared today that Montana has been awarded over $400,000 for outdoor recreation and conservation projects.Fish, Wildlife and Parks Division Administrator Chas VanGenderen said the funds came as part of a package of grants announced the the U.S. Department of Interior:

"The Department of Interior announced their land and water conservation fund grants for the state side of that program, of which Montana got $409,000 that we'll be granting out around the state of Montana," VanGenderen said. "What we do is we put out an announcement for recreation grants and folks apply from around the state. It's eligible for tribal lands, municipalities, counties, even school districts can improve their playgrounds with those monies."

VanGenderen said the funds enable state and local governments to establish everything from baseball fields to parks; to provide public access to rivers and lakes; and to conserve natural landscapes for public outdoor recreation use and enjoyment.

"This year it's a little bit more than previous years," VanGenderen said. "Typically we've been getting somewhere between $250,000 to $300,000 a year. That's based on our states total size as well as our population. It's going to be a long time before we compete with states like California."

Land and water conservation fund grants have been shown to have a significant economic impact. Studies have found that for every $1 invested in land acquisition generated a $4 return on the investment for communities.