Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

For Release: Wednesday, September 13, 2023

DEC and State Parks Begin Process of Updating the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan

Regional Advisory Committees Being Formed to Provide Land Conservation Recommendations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) Commissioner Erik Kulleseid today announced the start of the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan (Plan) update process. As required by law, the Plan is updated periodically, relying heavily on the recommendations of nine Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) that are composed of people knowledgeable in open space conservation. All RAC members are appointed by county governments, or DEC, and State Parks.

"Land conservation is an essential tool in New York State's comprehensive actions to address climate change and protect our natural resources," said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos. "As work begins to revise the New York State Open Space Plan, DEC and our State and local partners will look to both preserve our lands and waters for future generations while ensuring priorities and projects help to advance New York's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act and align with the State's efforts to conserve 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030."

"The last few years have dramatically underscored the need for open spaces and parkland to help moderate the negative impacts of climate change and provide people with places to get outside and escape the daily stress of life," State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. "We look forward to hearing from the public as we renew this statewide open space plan - and build on New York State's outstanding legacy of land conservation and broad access to outdoor recreation."

The RACs will work with the public and staff from both agencies to develop a list of priority land conservation projects and make policy recommendations such as identifying additional ways our open spaces can help address climate change and increasing recreational access to underserved communities. In addition to working with the RACs, DEC and State Parks will collaborate with State agencies including the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Department of State, and Department of Transportation to address issues such as farmland protection, coastal land conservation, and the connection of transportation to land use.

Since 1992, the Plan has served as the blueprint for the State's Open Space Program, guiding land protection investments from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The Plan also covers a broad range of related topics, including protecting water quality, ensuring environmental justice, protecting air quality, addressing climate change, and educating the next generation about the importance of these topics.

The entire update process takes approximately two years and includes a public comment period which is anticipated to take place in the summer of 2024. RAC meetings will begin this month. The regional advisory committee contacts (PDF) is available on the DEC website.

Overwhelmingly approved by voters last fall, the landmark Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs Environmental Bond Act is the largest environmental bond in state history and the first in New York since 1996. The Bond Act makes $4.2 billion available for environmental and community projects. Specifically, the Environmental Bond Act authorizes $650 million for open space land conservation and recreation. State agencies, local governments, community-based organizations, and other stakeholders will be able to access Bond Act funding over a multi-year process.

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "New York's agricultural community always been committed to protecting our natural resources, from cultivating healthy soil and preserving farmland for future generations, to keeping our community waterways clean and safe. I'm proud that agriculture is at the table in the work the State is doing to combat climate change, including open space land conservation. I look forward to hearing directly from those most impacted to help us continue our work leading the nation in protecting our most precious resources now and for the future."

Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "A comprehensive approach to land conservation is an essential component of our efforts to address climate change, protect and restore natural resources, and improve the quality of life for all of the communities within the State of New York. The New York State Open Space Plan will serve as complement to so many of the Department of State programs that create sustainable communities, protect the environment, and enhance community resiliency."

New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "Open space preservation has countless environmental and recreational benefits for all New Yorkers, and this collaborative, grassroots approach demonstrates Governor Hochul's continued commitment to preserving the scenic beauty of the Empire State while continuing to combat global climate change. For generations, New Yorkers have sought renewal within our natural, green spaces, and we must continue to do everything we can to enhance access for all New Yorkers."

A recording of the Regional Advisory Committee kickoff meeting, will be posted to DEC's website by September 27, 2023. For further information on the State's Open Space Conservation Program and the current Plan see DEC's website. Below is a complete list of the RAC members by DEC administrative region.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Press Office - Lori Severino
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-1016
    email us
  • This Page Covers
  • Page applies to all NYS regions