Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program

The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition 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.

Grants may be 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 a native ecological community which is uncommon; 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. Emphasis will be given to open space acquisitions that comply with local and regional open space or conservation and development plans.

Land acquired shall be preserved in perpetuity: 1) predominately in its natural scenic and open condition or; 2) for the protection or provision of potable water or; 3) for agriculture. A permanent conservation easement shall be provided to the State to ensure that the property remains in a natural and open condition for the conservation, open space, agriculture or water supply purpose for which it was acquired. The easement shall include a requirement that the property be made available to the general public for appropriate recreational purposes. Where development rights have been purchased or where general public access would be disruptive of agricultural activity, an exception to the provision for public recreational access may be made.  Where development rights are proposed to be purchased, the purchased rights will be assigned to the State of Connecticut as a substitute to 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) or for property acquired by the grant applicant prior to the grant application deadline.

The Commissioner of Environmental Protection may approve grants...... a ....... ...........for.......... an amount not to exceed....
Municipality Open space 65% of fair market value
Municipality Class I & Class II Water supply
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
Open space or watershed protection 65% of fair market value
Nonprofit land conservation
(if land is located within a distressed or targeted
Open space or watershed protection 75% of fair market value
Water company Class I & Class II water
65% of fair market

* Please note that the percentages shown represent the maximum grant award and that grant awards may be provided at a lower percentage.

An application form and required supporting documentation such as maps, title searches, and appraisals must be submitted to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection. Applications must be approved by local planning agencies and conservation 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, title work complete, and with current surveys are encouraged. While acquisitions planned over extended time frames are anticipated and will be considered for funding, an effort will be made to acquire resource lands currently available for acquisition in a timely manner.

Grant Questionnaire & Application (PDF)

Note:  DEP is currently not accepting applications.

The Department of 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 personnel from the various resource management divisions of the Department of 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 grant questionnaire 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 competitive.  Any missing information will necessarily result in less than optimum scoring.

Should you have any specific questions or need assistance, please contact David D. Stygar, Environmental Analyst, Department of Environmental Protection, Division of Land Acquisition and Management, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, Connecticut 06106 (860) 424-3081.


Contact Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program

David D. Stygar
Land Acquisition - Department of Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford, Connecticut  06106
Phone: (860) 424-3016


Service Area

Statewide Program in:
  • Connecticut

Office Locaters

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