Land Acquisition and Planning

Program Open Space Stateside

Established in 1969, Program Open Space (POS) symbolizes Maryland’s long-term commitment to conserving natural resources while providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities.Program Open Space Stateside preserves natural areas for public recreation and watershed and wildlife protection across Maryland through the purchase of fee-simple and easement acquisitions. Fee simple purchases are managed by the department as State Parks, Forests, and Wildlife and Fisheries Management Areas.


The Department of Natural Resources will maximize available funding by being more strategic in setting priorities for which lands are to be conserved. The department has implemented a “Program Open Space Targeting” land conservation system based first on ecological priorities. The creation of a more transparent process is based on scientific data, management priorities and public needs (recreational, historic, and cultural access; and resource-based economies).

The “Program Open Space Targeting System” begins with an ecological screen that uses an ecological baseline to select “Targeted Ecological Areas”. A parcel screen will be used to assess, score, and prioritize parcels. A smaller portion of Program Open Space Stateside funds will still be used to acquire high priority recreational, cultural, and historic sites, providing key Chesapeake Bay access points, trails connections, and in-holdings.

By using a more refined analysis of updated ecological data the department has created a more transparent process where decisions are supported by science.

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