DEEP: Open Space

Connecticut Open Space

{Auerfarm State Park Scenic Reserve, Bloomfield}
Auerfarm State Park Scenic Reserve, Bloomfield

Connecticut’s natural diversity and scenic beauty add immeasurably to the quality of life of its residents. The state’s prosperity has always depended upon its natural resources. Forests and farms contribute to a healthy and diverse economy. Parks and open lands improve the quality of life and help attract businesses. Natural areas and waterways provide critical wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, and scenic natural beauty, which is the foundation of the tourism industry. However, not all undeveloped land is protected open space; some of it will eventually be developed. For Connecticut to remain an attractive state in which to live, work and conduct business, it is critical that development be balanced with land conservation.

The Department works to protect open space by acquiring lands to add to the State's system of Parks, Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas, and by providing funding to our conservation partners to protect open space for conservation and recreation purposes.

The Green Plan - Connecticut's Comprehensive Open Space Acquisition Strategy

The 2016-2020 Connecticut Comprehensive Open Space Acquisition Strategy (the Green Plan) prioritizes DEEP's actions through 2020 to best achieve the State's changing open space acquisition goals.

Please visit 'The Green Plan' to view and download the complete plan and other related materials.

Connecticut Open Space Protection Goals

The State of Connecticut envisions a mixed landscape preserving natural communities, protecting water quality, providing outdoor recreation, and offering green spaces for all residents.

The State's overall goal is to preserve or otherwise protect 673,210 acres or 21% of Connecticut's land as open space by the year 2023.  The initiative includes 10% of open space to be DEEP-owned as additions to the State's system of parks, forests, and wildlife areas, and the remaining 11% owned by municipalities, private non-profit land conservation organizations, water companies, and the federal government.

As of September 2018, 75% of this goal or 507,347 acres has been preserved through the direct purchase of open space by the State and DEEP's partners.

To succeed in protecting a total of 21% of Connecticut's land by year 2023, DEEP and its partners must remain committed to acquiring open space.  DEEP has two programs available to assist in realizing the State's open space vision and goals:  the Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program and the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.  Visit the links below to learn more about these programs.

Open Space Programs and Links

Public Use and Benefit Land Registry

The Department is in the process of establishing a publicly-accessible mapping system that contains information for three State Parks owned by the Department.  This is a pilot project with more information to be added on other Department parcels, and in the future on open space lands held by other state agencies, municipalities, and land conservation organizations.  The Land Registry includes information on the location, ownership, and acquisition details for such lands, as well as deeds, easements, encumbrances and rights of ways, surveys, and management and stewardship plans.

Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program
This program is DEEP's primary program for acquiring land to expand the State's system of parks, forests, wildlife, and other natural open spaces.

Parties interested in selling or donating land to DEEP should see the above link for additional information on the acquisition process.

Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program, which includes its Urban Green and Community Gardens Program.

This grant program provides financial assistance to municipalities and non-profit land conservation organizations to acquire land for open space that will enhance local outdoor recreation, protect unique geographical features, or conserve wildlife habitat, and to water companies to acquire land to be classified as Class I or Class II water supply property.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a federal grant program administered by the Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS).  LWCF consists of a federal side and a State side.  The State side program provides funding for recreation planning, acquisition of lands and waters, and facility development.  The goal of the LWCF is to increase opportunities and the quality of outdoor recreation.

Conservation Partners:

Other Conservation Programs:

Open Space Reporting:

Related Information:

Content Last Updated February 13, 2019