DEEP: Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program

Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program
(C.G.S. Section 7-131d to 7-131k, inclusive)

The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition (OSWA) Grant Program provides financial assistance to municipalities and nonprofit land conservation organizations to acquire land for open space and to water companies to acquire land to be classified as Class I or Class II water supply property.

 DEEP is not currently accepting grant applications.

The Department accepts applications from municipalities, non-profit land conservation organizations, and water companies for the competitive Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program.  The Department awards grants to projects that offer the highest conservation and recreational value - and that leverage the greatest percentage of private and municipal funding.

DEEP also accepts applications from municipalities (often in partnership with non-profits) under the competitive Urban Green and Community Garden Program.  For more information, please see below.

Grants for the above programs will be based on the merit of the project and the level of funds available.  Funding for these grants is derived from State Bond funds and/or from the Community Investment Act (CIA).  DEEP awards may not be made until adequate funding is available.

Grant Questionnaire and Application

Grant Program Overview & Selection

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Information and Assistance

{Wapping Park}
Wapping Park, South Windsor
Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Recipient

Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program

Grants under the Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program can be awarded to distressed municipalities and targeted investment communities to develop or enhance urban open space for public enjoyment and/or environmental education.  The promotion of open space in an urban setting may include, but it may not be limited to, the development of a community garden or reclaiming and enhancing existing open space to allow public use.

Awards are given to those projects that demonstrate the highest ability to benefit urban communities in close proximity to population centers.

Urban Green and Community Gardens Application

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Additional Information and Assistance

{Working at the FRESH Community Garden}
FRESH Community Garden at Mercer and Williams Street, New London
Urban Green and Community Grant Recipient

Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program Overview & Selection

An application form and required supporting documentation including maps, title searches and appraisals must be submitted to the DEEP by the grant deadline.  Applications must be endorsed by local Planning, Zoning, Conservation and/or Open Space Commissions and must include an advisory report and the recommendations of the appropriate regional planning agency.  Applicants are encouraged to apply for parcels that can realistically be acquired within a six to twelve-month time frame.  Projects with the required matching share available, appraisal(s) completed, title work completed with a current survey are encouraged.  Preference will be given to those lands currently available for acquisition within a twelve-month period.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection will utilize a project selection process to objectively evaluate proposals.  Land identified for acquisition will be evaluated by a review team consisting of staff from the various resource management divisions of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture.  The decision to pursue acquisition of a parcel will be based on the scores and comments provided by the review team in addition to considerations such as:  the criteria for the program; cost; fulfillment of a resource need; geographic distribution; proximity to urban areas or areas with a deficiency of public open space; availability of a donation or bargain sale; stewardship needs and management constraints; compatibility with the State Plan of Conservation and Development and other State environmental plans, policies, goals and objectives; and proximity to other protected open space.
Please review the current version of the grant questionnaire and application carefully and respond fully.  For a project proposal(s) to be considered for funding, answer all questions and provide appropriate identified supporting material within the allotted time.  The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant program is a competitive program.  Any missing information will result in less than optimum scoring.  Any information found misleading within the application is grounds for withdrawal of the application and forfeiture of any possible/awarded grant.

Grants are made for the purchase of land that is 1) valuable for recreation, forestry, fishing, conservation of wildlife or natural resources; 2) a prime natural feature of the state's landscape; 3) habitat for native plant or animal species listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern; 4) a relatively undisturbed outstanding example of an uncommon native ecological community; 5) important for enhancing and conserving water quality; 6) valuable for preserving local agricultural heritage; or 7) eligible to be classified as Class I or Class II watershed land.

Careful attention should be given to the criteria previously listed and to: 1) protection of land adjacent to and complementary to existing open space, preserved agricultural land or Class I or Class II water company land; 2) proximity to urban areas; 3) land vulnerable to development; 4) consistency with the State’s Plan of Conservation and Development; and 5) lands with multiple values such as water supply protection and recreation, or forest preservation and fishing access.  Linkages between open spaces are an important consideration as are multi-town projects such as greenways.  Cooperative efforts should be fostered between towns, land conservation organizations and local community groups.  Preference will be given to open space acquisitions that comply with local and regional open space or conservation and development plans.
Land acquired will be preserved in perpetuity: 1) predominately in its natural scenic and open condition; 2) for the protection or provision of potable water; 3) or for agriculture.  A permanent conservation easement will be provided to the State to ensure that the property remains in a natural and open condition for the conservation, open space, agriculture, green space or water supply purpose for which it was acquired.  The easement will include a requirement that the property be made available to the general public for appropriate recreational purposes.  Where development rights will be purchased and where general public access would be disruptive of agricultural activity, an exception to the provision for public recreational access may be made, at the discretion of the Commissioner.  Where development rights are to be purchased, the State of Connecticut will become an equal holder of those rights as a substitute for the easement.  No grant may be made for: 1) land to be used for commercial purposes or for recreational purposes requiring intensive development except for forest management or agricultural use; 2) land with environmental contamination; 3) land which has already been committed for public use; 4) development costs; 5) land to be acquired by eminent domain; 6) reimbursement of in-kind services or incidental expenses; 7) for property acquired to the grant applicant prior to the grant application deadline.

The Department may approve grants... a........ ........for........ an amount not exceed...*
Municipality Open space 65% of fair market value
Municipality Class I & Class II Water supply property 65% of fair market value
Distressed municipality or targeted investment community ** Open space 75% of fair market value
Distressed municipality or targeted investment community ** Resource enhancement or protection 50% of cost of such work
Nonprofit land conservation organization Open space or watershed protection 65% of fair market value
Nonprofit land conservation organization
(if land is located within a distressed or targeted community)
Open space or watershed protection 75% of fair market value
Water company Class I & Class II water supply property 65% of fair market value

* Please note that the percentages shown represent the maximum grant award and that grant awards may be reduced to a lesser percentage or may be reduced to not exceed an administrative cap.
** See lists under the current Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

Additional Information and Assistance

Should you have any specific questions or need assistance, first reference the Answers to Frequently Asked Questions.  If you have additional questions, please contact Allyson Clarke, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Office of Constituent Affairs/Land Management, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106, 860-424-3774. For application questions regarding conserving a working farm, contact Elisabeth Moore, Project Director at Connecticut Farmland Trust, at

Content Last Updated on February 13, 2019.