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Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition (OSWA) Grant Program and Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program

Grants to Connecticut Nonprofits, Municipalities, and
Water Companies for Natural Resources Conservation

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Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP)

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Grants to Connecticut nonprofit organizations, municipalities, and companies for projects that preserve the environment. Funding is intended for projects to acquire lands that provide the greatest potential for protection of natural resources, with the highest recreational and conservational value. Funding is also available for projects to enhance open space in urban areas for public enjoyment and environmental education.

About the Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program:

The Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition (OSWA) Grant Program provides financial assistance to municipalities and nonprofit land conservation organizations to acquire land for open space, and to water companies to acquire land to be classified as Class I or Class II water supply property.

Grants are awarded for the purchase of land that is:

  1.  Valuable for recreation, forestry, fishing, conservation of wildlife or natural resources;
  2.  A prime natural feature of the state's landscape;
  3.  Habitat for native plant or animal species listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern;
  4.  A relatively undisturbed outstanding example of an uncommon native ecological community;
  5. . Important for enhancing and conserving water quality;
  6.  Valuable for preserving local agricultural heritage; or
  7.  Eligible to be classified as Class I or Class II watershed land.

Land acquired will be preserved in perpetuity predominately in its natural scenic and open condition, for the protection or provision of potable water, or for agriculture.

All land acquired must be accessible to the public without limitation.

About the Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program:

The Department's Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program provides funding assistance to develop or enhance urban open spaces for public enjoyment and/or environmental education.  Promotion of open space in an urban setting may include, but may not be limited to, the development of a community garden or reclaiming and enhancing existing open space for the public's use.  Grants are awarded to projects that demonstrate the highest ability to benefit urban communities in close proximity to population centers. 

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 177156

Term of Contract:

Approved properties are expected to be acquired within one year after a grant is awarded. DEEP reserves the right to rescind a grant award after this one year period.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

I. Eligibility Requirements for the OSWA Grant Program:

- Applicant must be a municipality, non-profit land conservation organization (e.g., land trust), or water company.
- For municipal applicants, if the municipality’s Plan of Conservation and Development is more than 10 years old, a grant will not be awarded without written approval by the Office of Policy and Management.
- Water companies must purchase land that can be classified as “Class I” or Class II” after acquisition. Water Companies must show if and how they intend to allow access to the proposed land for recreational uses.
- If the proposed property is being purchased from a water company, the property must be classified as surplus (Class III) land. The Water Company (title holder) must be granted permission to dispose of the property by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) and the Department of Public Health (DPH).
- If a Land Trust is purchasing an interest in land located in a Targeted Investment Community/Distressed Municipality, it must obtain approval from the Municipality’s chief elected official or governing legislative body. Approval must be submitted with the application.
- All lands or interest in lands acquired under this program must be preserved in perpetuity, predominantly in their natural, scenic, and open condition.
- Applicants must show evidence of compliance with past OSWA funded properties (See Section 13). • The applicant must clearly show how the public will access and enjoy the property. If public access is not clearly shown, the property will not be evaluated or offered a grant.
- The applicant must have a reasonable anticipation that all matching funds will be secured and a closing can take place within one year of the grant award.

Projects funded under this program will be protected as open space in perpetuity. Grants will not be given if the property has any structural buildings. Structural buildings must be either excluded or razed before funding can be released. No intensive recreation is permitted on the protected property. Passive recreation is allowed

Grant funds cannot be used to purchase:

- Land to be used for intensive recreation purposes (see FAQs for more information)
- Land which has already been committed for public use
- Land to be acquired by eminent domain

Grant and match funds cannot be used for:

- Development costs including any passive recreation features
- Reimbursement of in-kind services or incidental costs associated with the acquisition of land (i.e., survey and legal fees, appraisals and appraisal reviews)

Land purchased under this program may not be used for intensive outdoor recreation or residential use.

Land already owned by the applicant is not eligible for an acquisition grant.

II. Eligibility Requirements for the UGCG Grant Program:

- The applicant must be a Municipality, or a Municipality partnering with a non-profit organization.
- The project must take place within the territorial limits of a “Distressed Municipality” or a “Targeted Investment Community” (see list of Distressed Municipalities and Target Investment Communities at
- The project must take place on publicly-owned land. If a non-profit organization is a co-applicant, it must have control of the project area for at least 10 years or another term as approved by the Commissioner in advance of the application deadline.
- The applicant must have funds available or funding sources available for 50% of the total project cost.
- The project must create, enhance or restore a Community Garden or urban green space.
- The applicant must clearly show how the public will access and enjoy the project. If public access is not clearly shown, the project will not be evaluated or awarded a grant.
- The project cannot be for commercial activities (i.e., use of property for sale of goods or production of goods for sale that is intended to generate a profit) or intensive recreational use (i.e. turf fields, indoor recreational facilities, swimming pools).
- The project cannot take place on land that was acquired by eminent domain.
- The municipality must have a Plan of Conservation and Development that is less than 10 years old.

Pre-Application Information:

For both the OSWA and UGCG programs, the deadline for applications will be extended by 30 days to July 1, 2020.

For the OSWA program: DEEP is granting a 60 day extension for the property appraisal portion of the application. The appraisal(s) and/or appraisal review must be submitted by August 1, 2020.

Each OSWA grant application requires:
- One (1) property appraisal in compliance with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (“UASFLA”), a/k/a Yellow Book,
- One (1) Appraisal Review, confirming that the prior appraisal is UASFLA a/k/a Yellow Book compliant.
- Two (2) UASFLA a/k/a Yellow Book compliant appraisals.

OSWA applications must be endorsed by local Planning, Zoning, Conservation and/or Open Space Commissions and must include an advisory report and the recommendations of the appropriate regional planning agency. Projects having the required cost-share matching available, title and appraisal report(s) completed, and a current property boundary survey are encouraged.

For further information about the Urban Green and Community Gardens Grant Program:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Please return your complete application including this questionnaire along with responses and supporting documentation to the following address:

CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Grant Program
Office of Constituent Affairs/Land Management
79 Elm Street, 6th Floor
Hartford, CT 06106-5127

As a COVID-19 precaution and for efficiency in processing, applicants are strongly encouraged to submit appraisals electronically. Please submit to

For questions or additional assistance, please contact:

Allyson Clarke, Property Agent
Phone: (860) 424-3774

You may also contact Property Agent Holly Lalime (860) 424-4078.

For any questions about protecting working farmland, please contact Elisabeth Moore, Project Director at the Connecticut Farmland Trust, at

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Connecticut

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