Land Acquisition and Planning

Program Open Space: An Overview

Most Maryland residents live within 15 minutes of an open space or recreational area funded by Program Open Space including:

  • open space areas like parks, forests, and wildlife management areas.
  • community park amenities, including: playgrounds, ball fields, tennis courts, boating facilities, swimming pools, fishing sites, hunting areas, forests, golf courses, hiking trails, greenways, wildlife areas, historic sites, formal gardens, and Chesapeake Bay water access.

How Does Program Open Space Work?

When a person buys a house or land, a 0.5% State property transfer tax is collected which funds Program Open Space.  This was designed to directly tie development to available funding for open space and recreational facilities for the public good.

The support of homeowners and landowners in this effort has resulted in the acquisition of more than 353,000 acres of open space directly through POS for state parks and natural resource areas and more than 50​,000 acres of local park land.

Program Open Space has...

  • Protected 415,000* acres of land
  • Awarded more than 6,900 grants to local governments through Program Open Space Local
  • Enhanced quality of communities
  • Established Greenways and Green Infrastructure network
  • Provided state and local park or public open space areas within 15 minutes of most residents

*Acreage includes Program Open Space Stateside, Program Open Space Local, and Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program permanent easements as of June ​30, 2022 

To track our progress​ refer to the Annual Department of Natural Resources Acreage Report​.​

What are the economic benefits of open space

  • Program Open Space is good for business and for the overall quality of life in Maryland and its attractive residential communities.
  • Home values tend to increase faster around parks and protected open space than comparable homes in other settings.
  • New businesses prefer to locate in communities with parks and quality environments.
  • Tourism is one of Maryland’s top industries. Historical structures, landscapes, parks and forests supported by Program Open Space are essential to the continued growth of this sector of Maryland’s economy.
  • The Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress reported that a city’s quality of life is “more important than purely business-related factors” when it comes to attracting new businesses.
  • Businesses which move to an area because of tax incentives tend to leave as soon as the incentives expire. Businesses drawn to an area because of its quality of life remain long term residents and taxpayers.

Program Open Space Local Annual Programs

Program Open Space Contacts - Who to Call