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Open Space Program


Farmland with housesIn 1990 the Delaware Land Protection Act established an Open Space Program. The Open Space Program oversees the protection of designated State Resource Areas. These areas are permanently protected through the buying of various state lands including parks, fish and wildlife areas, forests, nature preserves and cultural sites.

Many SRAs are not protected through acquisition – the intent has not been to purchase all SRAs. Rather, the purpose of the SRAs is to guide state acquisition of open space from willing sellers and to be incorporated by counties in their land use plans.

Background info on Open Space Programs

The Nature of Open Space Programs (report prepared by the Environmental Law Institute)

Delaware Open Space Council (OSC)

The Delaware Open Space Council, comprised of 9 members, advises the DNREC Secretary on all matters relating to the administration, implementation and financing of the protection of designated SRAs.

This includes site selection, methods of protection, and interagency and intergovernmental coordination among public and private land preservation agencies. Among its duties, the OSC:

  • Reviews and recommends to the Department for adoption, after a public hearing, criteria for delineation, and dedication of open space
  • Reviews and recommends to the Department for adoption, after public hearing, state resource area maps
  • Reviews and recommends to the Department for approval lands for permanent protection according to the adopted state resource area maps
  • Promotes and assists, in conjunction with state agencies, the development and establishment of creative and innovative methods to secure the permanent protection of open space
  • Analyzes, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, the state and local tax codes and formulates incentives to encourage landowners and developers to donate or retain ownership of their lands in an undeveloped state

Delaware Open Space Council Meeting Info

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