The Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program

(CGS Section 23-73 through 23-99, inclusive)

forested coldwater stream
Coldwater Ball Brook at Mount Riga State Park, Salisbury CT

The Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program (RNHTP) was established by the General Assembly in 1986 to help protect and preserve Connecticut’s natural heritage.  It is the Department's primary program for acquiring lands and waters to be added to the State's system of public Parks, Forests, Wildlife Management, recreational water access, and other natural open spaces. Through the RNHTP, the Department handles the acquisition of land of statewide significance which represent the ecological and cultural diversity of Connecticut, with a focus on unique features such as rivers, mountains, rare natural communities, scenic qualities, historic significance, connections to other protected land, and access to water.

To ensure that a property for potential acquisition by the Department is compatible with the goals of the RNHTP, it is evaluated using a review system.  Under the review system, properties for potential acquisition should possess one or more of the following characteristics:

  1. High-quality outside recreation opportunities or forestry, fisheries, and/or wildlife conservation values.
  2. Prime natural features of Connecticut's landscape, such as a major river, mountains, ridgelines, tidal coastal wetlands, or significant estuarine area.
  3. Uncommon native ecological areas and essential habitats for State-listed threatened, endangered, and/or special concern species.
Landowner Acquisition Process

The Department purchases land from willing sellers.  In many cases, landowners interested in protecting their property contact DEEP directly.  Other times, the Department or conservation organizations initiate contact with landowners.

If you wish to submit a property for consideration for purchase by DEEP, please complete and return the "Prospective Land Acquisition Application" (below):

Prospective Land Acquisition Application:  Fillable PDF Form  Word Form

Instructions for submitting your application are outlined in the application form.  In completing an application package, please be sure to provide a brief description of the property's special characteristics and include documents such as Town assessor's map and property survey, if available.  A copy of the Assessor's field card and current deed to the property are also requested.

Applications will be reviewed only if one of the following conditions is met:

  1. The property is for sale on the open market, or
  2. The property is not currently for sale on the open market, but the property owner expresses interest in the sale or donation of the property to the State.

Please note that submission of an application by the property owner or their agent constitutes permission for DEEP staff to inspect the land as part of its review process.

You will receive a letter confirming the Department's receipt of a submitted application. The review process may take between 6 and 10 weeks.  After it completes its review, the Department will send you a letter regarding its interest in acquiring the property.

Additional Questions

Please contact:

Matt Starr, Property Agent
Land Acquisition and Management Unit
Office of Planning and Regulatory Affairs
Phone (860) 424-3080


Content Last Updated on October 20, 2022