Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program

Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection

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Grant amount: Unspecified amount

Anticipated deadline: Feb 7, 2020

Applicant type: Government Entity Nonprofit

Funding uses: Applied Project / Program

Location of project: Connecticut

Location of residency: Connecticut

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The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition (OSWA) 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. The Department will be awarding grants to projects that offer the highest conservation and recreational value - and that leverage the greatest percentage of private and municipal funding.

Applicants are encouraged to apply for parcels that can realistically be acquired within a six to twelve-month time frame. The Department of Energy and 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 staff from the various resource management divisions of the Department of Energy and 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

Grants are made for the purchase of land that is:

  • valuable for recreation, forestry, fishing, conservation of wildlife or natural resources
  • a prime natural feature of the state's landscape
  • habitat for native plant or animal species listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern
  • a relatively undisturbed outstanding example of an uncommon native ecological community
  • important for enhancing and conserving water quality
  • valuable for preserving local agricultural heritage
  • or eligible to be classified as Class I or Class II watershed land

Careful attention should be given to the criteria previously listed and to:

  • protection of land adjacent to and complementary to existing open space, preserved agricultural land or Class I or Class II water company land
  • proximity to urban areas
  • land vulnerable to development
  • consistency with the State’s Plan of Conservation and Development
  • and lands with multiple values such as water supply protection and recreation, or forest preservation and fishing access.

Cooperative efforts should be fostered between towns, land conservation organizations and local community groups.

Land acquired will be preserved in perpetuity:

  • predominately in its natural scenic and open condition
  • for the protection or provision of potable water
  • or for agriculture.

A permanent conservation easement will be provided to the State to ensure that the property remains in a natural and open condition for the conservation, open space, agriculture, green space or water supply purpose for which it was acquired. The easement will include a requirement that the property be made available to the general public for appropriate recreational purposes.

Where development rights will be purchased and where general public access would be disruptive of agricultural activity, an exception to the provision for public recreational access may be made, at the discretion of the Commissioner.

Where development rights are to be purchased, the State of Connecticut will become an equal holder of those rights as a substitute for the easement. 

Amount of Funding

The amount of funding provided to a project will be based on numerous factors related to the quality of the project (conservation, recreational, and water resources protected), amount of private, or other governmental funds leveraged, number and quality of other grant applications, and availability of DEEP resources. Not all grant recipients will receive the same percentage of funds, and certain grants may be subject to a grant cap. Refer to "Grant Funding Amounts" here.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  •  Municipalities, land trusts and water companies are the three entities  eligible to apply for and receive a grant under this program.
  • Each project sponsor is required to secure funds to match DEEP’s grant from other sources. 


  • Projects with the required matching share available, appraisal(s) completed, title work completed with a current survey are encouraged.
  • Preference will be given to those lands currently available for acquisition within a twelve-month period.
  • Linkages between open spaces are an important consideration as are multi-town projects such as greenways.
  • Preference will be given to open space acquisitions that comply with local and regional open space or conservation and development plans.


  • No grant may be made for:
    • land to be used for commercial purposes or for recreational purposes requiring intensive development except for forest management or agricultural use
    • land with environmental contamination
    • land which has already been committed for public use
    • development costs
    • land to be acquired by eminent domain
    • reimbursement of in-kind services or incidental expenses
    • for property acquired to the grant applicant prior to the grant application deadline.