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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

Open Space

Note: For a list of DEC-managed recreation lands see the Places to Go page.

View the 2009 Open Space Conservation Plan

2013 Open Space Conservation Plan Revision

DEC-led committees of citizen scientists, non-profit leaders, elected officials and government officials are convening public meetings across the state to review the current Open Space Conservation Plan. These Regional Advisory Committees will make recommendations for open space conservation policies and priority projects to be included in the 2013 revision.

DEC Region Date Location Additional Info
1 - Long Island 10 am, Friday
March 15, 2013
Childs Mansion
19 Shore Drive
East Setauket, NY 11733
Phone: 631-444-0300
10 am, Friday
April 19, 2013
Long Island State Parks Regional HQ
Belmont Lake State Park
Belmont Avenue
North Babylon, NY
Phone: 631-444-0300
2 - New York City 6 pm, Monday
February 25, 2013
OPRHP NYC Regional Office
Adam Clayton Powell Bldg
163 West 125th St., 17th Flr
New York, NY 10027
Phone: 718-482-4942
6 pm, Thursday
March 21, 2013
OPRHP NYC Regional Office
Adam Clayton Powell Bldg
Phone: 718-482-4942
6 pm, Tuesday
April 16, 2013
OPRHP NYC Regional Office
Adam Clayton Powell Bldg
Phone: 718-482-4942
3 - Lower Hudson Valley 2 pm, Tuesday
February 26, 2013
DEC Region 3 HQ
21 South Putt Corners Rd
New Paltz, NY 12561
Phone: 845-256-3092
10 am, Thursday
March 21, 2013
Conf. Room 126
NYS DEC Region 3 HQ
Phone: 845-256-3092
2 pm, Monday
April 22, 2013
Conf. Room 126
NYS DEC Region 3 HQ
Phone: 845-256-3092
4 - Capital District 1:30 pm, Tuesday
February 12, 2013
NYS DEC Region 4 HQ
1130 N. Westcott Rd.
Schenectady, NY 12306
Phone: 518-357-2234
2:30 pm, Tuesday
March 5, 2013
NYS DEC Region 4 HQ Phone: 518-357-2234
2:30 pm, Monday
April 15, 2013
NYS DEC Region 4 HQ Phone: 518-357-2234
2:30 pm, Wednesday
April 24, 2013
NYS DEC Region 4 HQ Phone: 518-357-2234
5 - Eastern Adirondacks, Lake Champlain 10 am, Friday
February 22, 2013
OPRHP Saratoga Reg. Office
19 Roosevelt Drive
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Phone: 518-897-1200
10 am, Friday
March 22, 2013
NYS DEC Warrensburg Office
232 Golf Course Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885
Phone: 518-897-1200
10 am, Friday
April 12, 2013
NYS DEC Region 5 HQ
1115 NYS Rte 86
Ray Brook, NY 12977
Phone: 518-897-1200
10 am, Friday
May 3, 2013*
TBA* *Tentative meeting
Phone: 518-897-1200
6 - Western Adirondacks, Lake Ontario 10 am, Wednesday
February 27, 2013
NYS DEC Lowville Office
7327 St Rt 812
Lowville, NY 13367
Phone: 315-785-2239
10 am, Wednesday
April 17, 2013
NYS DEC Lowville Office Phone: 315-785-2239
7 - Central New York, Eastern Finger Lakes 10 am, Thursday
February 28, 2013
NYS DEC Cortland Office
1285 Fisher Avenue
Cortland, NY 13045
Phone: 315-426-7403
10 am, Tuesday
March 26, 2013
NYS DEC Cortland Office Phone: 315-426-7403
10:30 am, Tuesday
April 16, 2013
NYS DEC Cortland Office
Phone: 315-426-7403
1-4 pm, Thursday
May 16, 2013
NYS DEC Cortland Office
Phone: 315-426-7403
8 - Western Finger Lakes 1-3 pm, Wednesday
February 20, 2013
Sampson State Park Phone: 585-226-5411
1-3 pm, Wednesday
March 13, 2013
NYS DEC Region 8 HQ
6274 E Avon-Lima Rd
Avon, NY 14414
Phone: 585-226-5411
1-3 pm, Wednesday
April 24, 2013
Hemlock Water Filtration Plant
City of Rochester Earth Day Event
7412 Rix Hill Rd.
Hemlock, NY 14466
Phone: 585-226-5411
1-3 pm, Wednesday
May 22, 2013*
TBA* *Tentative meeting
Phone: 585-226-5411
9 - Western New York 7 pm, Wednesday
April 10, 2013
Crossroads Commerce & Conf. Center
Belmont, NY
Allegany County
Phone: 716-851-7200
7 pm, Thursday
April 18, 2013
Cattaraugus County Office Building
3rd Floor Legislative Chamber
Little Valley, NY
Cattaraugus County
Phone: 716-851-7200
7 pm, Thursday
April 25, 2013

Cornell Cooperative Extension
401 N Main St
Warsaw, NY 14569
Wyoming County

Phone: 716-851-7200
7 pm, Wednesday
May 1, 2013
Niagara County Fairgrounds
4487 Lake Avenue
Lockport, NY 14094
Niagara County
Phone: 716-851-7200
3:30 pm, Wednesday
May 8, 2013
Concord Town Hall,
86 Franklin Street,
Springville, NY
Phone: 716-851-7200
3:30 pm, Wednesday
May 15, 2013
Concord Town Hall,
86 Franklin Street,
Springville, NY
Phone: 716-851-7200

Regional press releases announcing further public meeting details may have been posted. All meetings are held at locations accessible to people with disabilities. Please contact DEC if an interpreter or any other accommodation is needed.

Open Space Introduction

Open space plays an important role in our state's landscape: the patterns of development, economy, culture, environment and well-being of our people. When our nation was young, the notion of open space conservation would have seemed unusual. The country was predominantly rural and agrarian; human settlements were often surrounded by wilderness and people were directly dependent on our state's fields, forests and waterways.

As our nation advanced, we largely abandoned firsthand relationships with the land, while spreading the landscape with homes, neighborhoods, commercial development and infrastructure. Now, as undeveloped land becomes scarce in many communities, it has become clear that there are basic human needs that go unmet without open space. In modern times, open space conservation requires active participation by government and citizens to ensure that these needs are met.

View of a shaded and groomed park in an urban setting
Urban Parkland

View of a large Central New York orchard with a distant hiltop
Working Landscapes

Open space provides:

  • Preservation of areas of particular scenic beauty, cultural value and historic significance
  • Room for production of food and forest products
  • Room for outdoor recreation
  • Green infrastructure to shape urban growth and provide a more livable and efficient urban environment
  • Protection or restoration of ecological functions
  • Protection of wildlife diversity and habitat for endangered plant and animal species
  • Protection of fisheries, viewsheds, public access and ecotourism potential
  • Mitigation of natural hazards, such as flooding, and protection of water supplies
  • Values that can take decades or centuries to mature and can be quickly lost to new development.
View of a sunny bike path with a couple bicycling

Definition of Open Space

Open space may be defined as an area of land or water that either remains in its natural state or is used for agriculture, free from intensive development for residential, commercial, industrial or institutional use. Open space can be publicly or privately owned. It includes agricultural and forest land, undeveloped coastal and estuarine lands, undeveloped scenic lands, public parks and preserves. It also includes water bodies such as lakes and bays. The definition of open space depends on the context. In a big city, a vacant lot or a small marsh can be open space. A small park or a narrow corridor for walking or bicycling is open space, though it may be surrounded by developed areas. Cultural and historic resources are part of the heritage of New York State and are often protected along with open space.

NYS Open Space Conservation Plan

The 2009 Open Space Conservation Plan is now available.

New York's Open Space Conservation Plan serves as the blueprint for the State's land conservation efforts, which during the past several years, has conserved over a million acres of land with an investment of more than $762 million. The Open Space Plan is required by law to be revised every three years.

photo of a marshland bird habitat at Alder Bottom Wildlife Management Area in Chautauqua County
Alder Bottom Wildlife Management Area

New York's Open Space Conservation Plan provides four overarching objectives to direct our priorities, policies, and actions:

  • Responding to Climate Change
  • Fostering Green, Healthy Communities
  • Connecting New Yorkers with Nature & Recreation
  • Safeguarding our Natural & Cultural Heritage

The Plan provides a number of actions that we can take in pursuit of each objective and a listing of associated programs and policies. The Plan also contains a statewide list of priority conservation projects that are eligible for funding through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).

The e-Appendices, available on this website, contain evaluation and criteria used to determine EPF spending priorities and recommendations by the Regional Advisory Committees, local governments and partnerships, the public, and staff from DEC, the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) and the Department of State (DOS), to improve New York's open space conservation program.

The Goals of the State Open Space Conservation Plan are:

photo of Sanford Lake, Tahawus, Essex County
  • To protect habitat for the diversity of plant and animal species in order to ensure the protection of healthy, viable and sustainable ecosystems.
  • To protect our State's water quality, including surface and underground drinking water supplies, lakes, streams and coastal and estuarine waters needed to sustain human life and aquatic ecosystems.
  • To maintain an interconnected network of protected lands and waters allowing wildlife to be able to shift range with climate change to follow natural migration patterns.
  • To reestablish broad riparian corridors along, and around, water bodies throughout the State.
  • To combat global climate change by adding to the tree canopy in our urban centers and urban communities in order to moderate temperature fluctuations, thereby lowering our energy consumption.
  • To improve quality of life and overall health in our State's communities, especially those with limited current access to open space.
  • To maintain critical natural resource industries such as farming, forest products, commercial fishing and tourism.
  • To combat global climate change by sustainable stewardship of our State's forests for carbon sequestration and air quality enhancement.
  • To combat global climate change by encouraging more compact community design patterns.
  • To protect habitat to sustain the traditional pastimes of hunting, fishing, trapping and wildlife viewing.
  • To provide accessible, quality outdoor recreation and open space to all New Yorkers.
  • To provide places for education and research relating to ecological, environmental and cultural resources.
  • To protect and enhance scenic, historic and cultural resources considered to be valued parts of the common heritage of our State's citizens.

Smart Growth

Aerial photo overlooking the City of Ithaca and Cayuga Lake
A relatively compact pattern of development

Smart growth is an approach to land use that redirects economic growth away from undeveloped areas and back into established communities. Open space conservation and smart growth go hand in hand, just as the natural and built environments are interconnected. On one hand, open space conservation redirects growth by preventing development on protected land. At the same time, smart growth draws development pressure away from unprotected open spaces.


More about Open Space: