On This Page:
- Importance of Open Space
- NYS Open Space Conservation Plan
- Smart Growth
- Open Space Funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)
- Open Space Conservation License Plate
Importance of Open Space
Open space is simply land or water that is undeveloped (free from residential, commercial, industrial, or institutional use). Open space can be either private or publicly owned and includes areas such as forests, agricultural field, public parks and preserves, and coastal lands. These spaces can be as small as a vacant lot or as large as the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve.
Open spaces provide benefits to New York State's economy, culture, environment, and our population's general well-being by providing:
- Scenic beauty, cultural value and historic significance
- Production of food and forest products
- Outdoor recreation
- Protection or restoration of ecological functions
- Wildlife diversity and habitat for endangered plant and animal species
- 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
NYS Open Space Conservation Plan
New York's Open Space Conservation Plan serves as the blueprint for the State's land conservation efforts. The Open Space Plan is revised periodically.
New York's Open Space Conservation Plan provides four overarching objectives to direct our priorities, policies, and actions:
- Promote outdoor recreation
- Address climate change
- Ensure clean water, air and land for a healthy public and vibrant economy
- Protect, use and conserve our natural resources and cultural heritage
The Plan provides 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).
2023 Open Space Conservation Plan Revision
Statutory Language for Regional Open Space Advisory Committees: 49-0209 establishes regional advisory committees to provide the department and office with advice and recommendations from the public on the implementation of the land acquisition programs of the department and office and in order to provide the public with information regarding the activities of the department and office pursuant to this title.
A regional advisory committee shall consist of at least thirteen, and not more than twenty-three members. Each county outside the city of New York or the city of New York in the case of a county contained within the city of New York shall appoint members to its region's advisory committee in a manner designed to provide equal representation for all counties within a region on such committee, provided that the total number of local government appointees to a regional advisory committee shall not exceed one-half of the committee's membership. The commissioners shall appoint to each regional advisory committee additional members equal to one more than the total number of members eligible for appointment by local government. Each member of a regional advisory committee shall be a resident of that region, provided however, the commissioners may appoint to each regional advisory committee up to two members who are not residents of that region. Each regional committee shall meet as it may deem necessary to carry out its responsibilities.
- Regional Advisory Committee Members (PDF)
- The Regional Advisory Committee Kick-Off Meeting was held on September 13, 2023. View the webinar here.
Smart growth is an approach to land use that redirects economic growth away from undeveloped areas and back into established communities. It uses economic development and job creation to enhance the quality-of-life of a community, while preserving the natural and working environments.
Smart growth encourages clustered population centers that are full of activity, diversity and character. Achieving this vision requires a combination of community planning activity, land use regulations, government incentives, and individual actions to work toward improved communities and quality of life. To learn more about smart growth, visit the Smart Growth Network.
DEC Actions to Promote Smart Growth
DEC currently enacts the following smart growth initiatives:
- Promotion of park-wide planning and hamlet revitalization in the Adirondacks and Catskills and implementation of the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park Smart Growth Grants Program
- Partnerships with state agencies and the private sector in promoting and implementing smart growth principles
Environmental Benefits of Smart Growth
- Energy use - Smart growth reduces vehicle miles traveled and decreases greenhouse gas emissions.
- Green development - Planned growth incorporates environmental awareness into land use decisions.
- Water quality - Smart growth leaves more and larger areas for the natural process of absorption and filtering.
- Ecosystems and habitat - Building compactly leaves ecosystems intact to support diverse plant and wildlife populations.
- Connection to nature - Smart growth creates links between our neighborhoods and areas set aside for nature-based recreation.
Open Space Funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF)
Created in 1993, the New York State EPF, as defined in Environmental Conservation Law Article 54, provides mechanisms for open space conservation and land acquisition.
Title 3 allocates funds to DEC and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for purchase of land to be included in the Forest Preserve, State Parks, the State Nature and Historical Preserve, State Historic Sites, Unique Areas and other categories.
Title 9 provides funds for local governments and not-for-profit organizations to purchase park lands or historic resources as well to develop and preserve these resources.
A portion of the revenue from New York State Bluebird License Plates (see below) supports the EPF.
Open Space Conservation License Plate
Order New York's first conservation license plate and help conserve our most precious natural resource -- the open space that provides recreational enjoyment for people, necessary habitat for plants and animals, and economic benefit for businesses and communities.
When you buy your Bluebird Plate, $25 goes directly into the State's Environmental Protection Fund, dedicated for conservation projects identified in New York's Open Space Plan. Order your Bluebird Plate now and help the Environmental Protection Fund complete urgent land conservation projects for our families and future generations of New Yorkers.
The Bluebird Plate is designed exclusively for New York by world-renowned artist and naturalist, Roger Tory Peterson, and is made from recycled aluminum.
For more information call (518) 402-4838 or visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles Office.