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2009 Open Space Conservation Plan

Riparian buffers
Ben Longstaff, IUN-UMCES

The 2009 Open Space Conservation Plan takes a fresh approach to conserving our vital natural and recreational areas. Small or large areas; urban, suburban, rural or wilderness; can be protected with a combination of public land protection and thoughtful use of our own land.

Consider the example of riparian areas; lands that line waterways, when protected and managed properly, can filter runoff, absorb stormwater and reduce catastrophic flooding downstream.

Discover how open space conservation works for today's New Yorkers and future generations.

New Plan Identifies Conservation Priorities

The 2009 version features:

A new look for a fresh approach

A renewed commitment to plan, prioritize, and enable government and citizen actions

An action agenda oriented to:

  • respond to climate change
  • foster green, healthy communities
  • connect people to nature and recreation
  • safeguard our natural and cultural heritage

Over 300 web links to related content, resources and partners in open space conservation

A new format to engage the reader with open space information

An updated list of publicly identified priority conservation areas

Cover page of the Open Space plan. Click this graphic for complete plan (PDF, 6.6 MB)
Complete Plan (PDF, 6.6 MB)

This is a large file and may take a long time to download

Letter from the Governor (PDF, 205 KB)

Letter from the Commissioners (PDF, 44 KB)

Introductory pages and Table of Contents (PDF, 960 KB)

Individual Chapters

I. Our State's Open Space Conservation Plan (PDF, 377 KB)

II. A Legacy of Conservation (PDF, 1.29 MB)

III. Our Actions

Responding to Climate Change (PDF, 1.21 MB)
Fostering Green, Healthy Communities (PDF, 855 KB)
Connecting New Yorkers with Nature & Recreation (PDF, 864 KB)
Safeguarding Our Natural & Cultural Heritage (PDF, 951 KB)


IV. Conclusion (PDF, 71 KB)

V. Regional Priority Conservation Projects (PDF, 522 KB)

VI. Resource Inventory / Programs & Partnerships (PDF, 282 KB)

VII. Agency Contacts (PDF, 120 KB)

VIII. Regional Advisory Committee Recommendations (PDF, 262 KB)

IX. Generic Environmental Impact Statement (PDF, 295 KB)

e-Appendices (available via website only)

A. Regional Advisory Committee Reports (unabridged) (PDF, 650 KB)
B. Legislative Mandates (PDF, 108 KB)
C. Conservation Project Eligibility and Evaluation Process (PDF, 311 KB)
D. Coastal & Estuarine Land Conservation Program (PDF, 533 KB)
E. Forest Legacy Expansions (PDF, 2.4 MB)
F. Assessment of Public Comments on the 2009 Draft Plan (PDF, 210 KB)
G. List of Public Commenters on the 2009 Draft Plan (PDF, 78 KB)

Public Process

The final plan culminates a process that will ensure that resources for open space conservation are committed to publicly identified priorities. Priority project areas were identified by regional Open Space Advisory Committees composed of representatives of local government, conservation organizations, members of the public, and DEC and OPRHP staff.

The draft plan was then prepared from the recommendations of the advisory committees and submitted for public comment on January 7, 2009. Written comments were accepted until February 27, 2009. Public hearings were held from January 20-January 22, 2009 around the state. Public comment was considered and many changes were incorporated into the final plan. Remaining comments are addressed in the Response to Public Comment (e-Appendix F).

We are confident that the public process of open space planning has produced a practical, sensible and cost-effective strategy for how to conserve our common outdoor heritage.

Taking Action

There are resources available that can help as we implement the actions recommended within the Plan. Many existing resources are identified and linked within the Plan. Web addresses within the PDF documents are clickable, bringing you directly to the referenced web pages.

Local Land Use Planning Resources (PDF, 1.88 MB) is a convenient handout featuring guidebooks that can help local communities plan to protect forests, open space, streams, wetlands and riparian areas. It includes links to the following documents:

  • Local Open Space Planning Guide, developed by DEC and the Department of State, lends advice and ideas to local officials and citizens who need assistance with their open space planning efforts. It can be found at the DOS website, along with other planning resources (see offsite link in the right-hand column).
  • Conserving Natural Areas and Wildlife in Your Community, a guide developed by DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program, for anyone involved or interested in biodiversity conservation and local land use planning and decision-making, including elected officials, volunteer board members, and interested citizens and organizations. It describes how to find biological information about your community and the tools and techniques that local governments can use to conserve natural areas and wildlife.
  • Stream Processes: A Guide to Living in Harmony with Streams, developed by the Southern Tier Central Regional Planning and Development Board and Chemung County, this innovative guide describes how streams work and why functioning floodplains are integral parts of stream systems. The guide contains dramatic photographs that help promote the need for sound management practices. It already has had a positive effect on decisions made by Chemung County landowners and local highway departments. It can be found at the Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District website at the bottom of the page (see offsite link in the right-hand column)

Check back often as additional technical assistance content will be linked from this web page as it is developed.