Program Open Space Evaluation

Land Acquisition and Planning

Targeting and Ranking Land Conservation – How Land is Evaluated

Department objectives in creating the Targeting Process were:

  • To be more strategic since conservation opportunities exceed available funding
  • To target land conservation based first on ecological priorities and
  • To create a more transparent process supported by science

The department evaluates all potential land acquisitions by using the following process.

First there is an Ecological Screen

  • The department uses an ecological baseline to select “Targeted Ecological Areas” (TEAs)
    Click here for the Targeted Ecological Areas Map
  • Land is reviewed using a Green Infrastructure evaluation to looks at properties in relationship to connected hubs and corridors, ecologically significant areas, and restoration opportunities. The Green Infrastructure includes resource assessments highlighting Rare Species Habitat, Aquatic Life Hotspots and Water Quality Protection.

The second step is the Parcel Screen

This process is used to assess the multiple benefits and management of a potential acquisition based on:

  • Ecological Value, its overall Landscape score and more specific Parcel score
  • Special Adjustments are made for multiple benefits
    • Recreational, historic, or cultural value
    • In-holding or adjacency
    • Habitat Maintenance or Restoration Value
    • Active management needed to prevent degradation of unique natural resources and
    • Opportunities for habitat and water quality restoration
  • Management and Operations responsibility identified
  • Consistency with local land use fragmentation due to development
  • Vulnerability to additional development


After thorough analysis the department will make onsite inspections to verify ecological benefits and cost factors.

The department will still buy some lands outside of the TEAs for exceptional recreational, cultural, historical, educational, water access, resource-based economic and in-holding/management purposes in existing department managed land and parks. Such lands are acquired if they meet the requirements of Appendix A to the scoring system.

Some POS Stateside funding will also be used for the purchase of permanent Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) easements. CREP easements make permanent the conservation practices established through 10 to 15 year CREP contracts.


For more information, click here to contact the regional administrators.