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DEEP Announces New Open Space Acquisition Strategy

Green Plan guides land acquisitions for natural resource protection

Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today announced it has updated the 2016-2020 Comprehensive Open Space Acquisition Strategy (Green Plan) which guides the state’s effort to meet its goal of conserving 21% of Connecticut’s land base as open space by year 2023.

“The goal of our ‘Green Plan’ is to increase the amount of protected land and also to make certain we protect lands of the highest conservation value in the state,” said DEEP Commissioner Robert Klee. “Connecticut’s great diversity in landscapes is fundamental to our high quality of life and the ‘Green Plan’ provides a framework everyone can work from to protect Connecticut’s special places for the natural resources we so value, today and for future generations.”
The newly revised Green Plan contains an action strategy with acquisition priorities and targeted acreages to protect specific lands identified as capable of providing certain benefits – such as buffers to climate change, critical wildlife habitats, and recreational trails.
The plan recommends the acquisition of certain lands for environmental and public recreation conservation centers around four major themes:  “Natural Waters and Drinking Water Resources,” “Areas Significant to the Coast,” “Natural Heritage Resources,” and “Natural Resource-based Outdoor Recreation.”
The Green Plan is a statewide planning document developed by DEEP in partnership with municipalities and numerous conservation organizations to guide land acquisitions towards achieving the state’s open space goal.
Statewide Open Space Goal
By statute, the state has a goal of conserving 21%, or 673,210 acres, of Connecticut’s land base as open space by the year 2023.
Ten percent of this open space goal is to be held by the State, while the remaining 11 percent is to be held by the State’s conservation Partners:  municipalities, non-profit land conservation organizations, and water companies.
As of December 31, 2015, about 501,330 acres were held as open space in Connecticut, or 74.5% of the total state open space goal. 
The Green Plan’s statewide open space acquisition priorities were developed in coordination with and support of  other key State planning documents related to open space, such as the Climate Change Preparedness Plan, Forestry Action Plan, Wildlife Action Plan, and Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.  In addition, a series of meetings and discussions were held with internal and external conservation partners.  A draft version of the plan was revised based on a public comment period. The result is a state planning tool that identifies and encourages action to protect the most valuable lands for open space.
“Connecticut land trusts are essential partners in the state's efforts in achieving its conservation goals,” said Amy Blaymore Paterson, Executive Director of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council. “With more of a qualitative focus, the new Green Plan will serve as an important guide for land trusts and their local, state and federal partners in setting their conservation priorities and community planning goals.”
Susan Merrow, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, said "We owe so much of what we call Connecticut's quality of life to our diverse open and wild spaces that are preserved forever. We all know, however, that it's only a small portion of Connecticut's habitat -- for people, animals, and plants -- that will ever be preserved. It's important that the state chooses wisely. After listening to advice from experts and many, many residents, DEEP has outlined essential land-preservation priorities for the next five years. I hope everyone will help make it reality."
The Green Plan notes that:
  • Connecticut’s natural environments provide a seemingly endless list of ecosystem services to people. For example, large blocks of shady forest provide not only critical habitat for species like the wood thrush and native brook trout, but also places for people to go hiking, bird watching, or otherwise enjoy. Forests buffer climate change by sequestering carbon, reducing stormwater runoff, and more.
  • While progress has been made over the decades on preserving open space, lands of high conservation and recreation value continue to be lost to development, even with the current economic conditions. Key lands must be protected now if we wish to leave future generations with the diverse habitats, safe waters, and quality outdoor recreation opportunities we benefit from today.
The Green Plan and information on Connecticut open space is available for viewing and downloading at  Questions or comments may be directed to Jamie Sydoriak at
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