Open Space in Connecticut

View at Housatonic State Forest
Housatonic State Forest, Norfolk

The Department is pleased to announce the 25th grant round of the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program (OSWA).  Applications and appraisals should be submitted in an electronic format on/before September 30, 2022.
The OSWA grant FAQs, application and score sheet are now available by clicking the links below. 

Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition (OSWA) 2022 Grant Application
OSWA Grant Program Scoring Sheet


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, it is critical that land development be balanced with land conservation.

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

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 towns, private non-profit land conservation organizations, water companies, and the federal government.

As of June 30, 2019, the Department estimated that 508,718 acres, or 75.5% 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 through 2020 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 towns, 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 towns (often in partnership with non-profit organizations) to develop or enhance urban open spaces for public enjoyment and/or environmental education.

Public Use and Benefit Land Registry
The Department is in the process of establishing a pilot, publicly-accessible mapping system that contains information such as deeds and surveys for State Parks and other properties held by the agency.

Land and Water Conservation Fund Grant Program

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a federal grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Interior, National Park Service (NPS).  It consists of a Federal side and a State side program.  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.

The State of Connecticut, through its Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is seeking proposals to evaluate for potential submittal to the National Park Service’s (NPS) Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP).  DEEP will select and submit applications for the LWCF ORLP grants through  to the NPS.  DEEP is seeking eligible sub-recipients – known as project sponsors to partner for outdoor recreation development and redevelopment projects.  Only DEEP is authorized to submit applications for this program. Refer to the LWCF webpage link above for more information..


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.

Related Information:


Content Last Updated:  June, 2022