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Conserving Delaware's Open Space


Delaware’s open spaces and natural places are areas of forests, waterways, parks, greenways, wetlands, and otherwise undeveloped lands. These open spaces support all of the living things that inhabit them, including the economy and people of Delaware.

Charged with protecting and conserving Delaware’s natural resources, DNREC has taken the lead in preserving a network of open spaces and natural places that support and protect our precious natural resources while also allowing for Delaware’s continued economic growth and development.

The process for acquiring open space lands and conservation easements was codified in 1990 with the passage of the Delaware Land Protection Act. The Land Preservation Office in DNREC implements this law by identifying areas of high ecological value and protects these areas by working with landowners who would like to protect their property from development and preserve it in perpetuity. Since the law was passed in 1990, over 57,000 acres of the Delaware landscape has been protected from development.

Natural open space lands contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to Delaware’s economy each year through hunting, fishing, wildlife watching and tourism. The diversity of plants, animals and habitats found on these lands also provide invaluable services like cleaning our air, filtering our water, and maintaining the fertility of our soil.

For more information:
DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation Land Preservation Office, (302) 739-9235

State Resource Areas - Standards and Criteria

State Resource Areas - Maps

State Resource Area (SRA) maps will be used for reference by the Open Space Council and the State agencies that qualify for funding under the Open Space Program (Division of Parks and Recreation, Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware Forest Service, and Division of Historic and Cultural Affairs). Any protection of these lands would be voluntary and involve a willing seller. There is no right of eminent domain under the Open Space Program.

  • ADVISORY: Public workshops for SRA maps have been withdrawn by DNREC. The House Sunset Committee has been discussing House Bill 262 (Amendments to the Delaware Land Protection Act) since March 9. This bill contains the provision to create State Resource Area (SRA) maps. On March 23 the House Sunset Committee began discussion on a draft House Substitute Bill for House Bill 262. This draft substitute bill removes the requirement to create SRA maps. Due to the legislative uncertainty at this time regarding whether SRA maps will be required, on March 25 DNREC withdrew the notice for public workshops and a public hearing on the SRA maps. If House Bill 262 passes, requiring SRA maps, then workshops and a DNREC public hearing would be scheduled accordingly.

Preliminary SRA Maps (all in DRAFT status)

About the Preliminary Maps (Legend):

"Publicly or Privately Protected Land" depicted in black are open space lands owned by federal, state, and county governments as well as private conservation organizations. Additionally, conservation easements held by public and private conservation organizations as well as agricultural easements are shown in black.

"SRA Shapes" represented in yellow were created from an ecological modeling project DNREC contracted the Conservation Fund to perform in 2013. This model identified high quality conservation areas based on ecological features and is not parcel based. In addition, lands adjacent to protected lands important for recreation, connections and management may also be identified in yellow. 

"SRA Points" represented in red are sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Collectively, "SRA Shapes" and "SRA Points" represent the most important unprotected natural and cultural resources in the State of Delaware. 

Land Preservation and Trails

Land Protection Act and Proposed Amendments

Open Space Program

Open Space Council Meeting Minutes


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