Open Space in Connecticut
Housatonic State Forest, Norfolk
*NEW* The 26th competitive grant round of the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program (OSWA) is open and the Department is now accepting applications. Please visit the OSWA webpage (link below) to learn more about this grant program.
The Department protects open space by adding lands to the State's system of Parks, Forests, and Wildlife Management Areas, and by providing open space grant funding to its land conservation partners.
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. Public forests, parks, and other open spaces improve quality of life, provide a foundation for the tourism industry, and help attract and grow businesses. 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 play, land development should be balanced with land conservation.
The State's goal is to protect 673,210 acres or 21% of Connecticut's land as open space by the year 2023. Ten percent of this open space is to be DEEP-owned as State parks, forests, and wildlife areas. The other 11% is to be owned by municipalities, private non-profit land conservation organizations, and water companies.
As of December 31, 2022, the Department estimated that 515,884 acres, or 76.6% of the total open space goal, has been protected through the purchase of open space by the Department and its land conservation partners.
The 2016-2020 Connecticut Comprehensive Open Space Acquisition Strategy (the Green Plan) prioritizes DEEP's actions to best achieve the State's changing open space acquisition goals. The State envisions protecting for its residents a mixed landscape having rare and common natural communities, high-quality lakes, ponds, and streams, and plentiful public outdoor recreation.
State Open Space Programs
Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program
The Department's main program for adding land to its system of State Parks, Forests, Wildlife Areas, and water access areas.
Interested in protecting your property? Visit the weblink above to learn how you can donate or sell your land and receive tax deduction and financial benefits. Experienced Department staff are available to discuss your options and the Department's process.
Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program
The State's open space financial aid program available to municipalities, non-profit land conservation organizations, and water companies to acquire land for the protection of local outdoor recreation, unique natural features, fish and wildlife habitat, and land which can be classified as Class I or Class II water supply property.
Urban Green and Community Garden Program
The State's financial aid program available to targeted distressed municipalities to develop or enhance urban gardens and green spaces for passive public enjoyment and/or environmental education.
Public Use and Benefit Land Registry
The "Registry" is the Department's publicly-accessible mapping system that contains information such as deeds and surveys for State Parks, Wildlife Management Areas, and other lands held by the agency.
Monthly and Annual Open Space Reporting
The Department submits monthly and annual reports on its land acquisition and open space grant programs to the General Assembly.
Content Last Updated: May 2023