Header Art - Land Acquisition and Planning

DNR's Land Conservation

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has been a national leader in land conservation for more than forty years. The DNR programs listed below have all brought national recognition to Maryland and are used by other states to model programs that will repeat the success Maryland has had with Land Conservation. Together, these programs will continue to meet the challenges of land conservation for our citizens.

Program Open Space (POS) acquires recreation and open space areas for public use. The Program administers funds made available to local communities for open and recreational space through the State real estate transfer tax and from federal programs, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. The Program coordinates the acquisition of lands for the use of all units of DNR.

POS funds are split between State and local government.

  • Stateside POS funds are allocated to purchase land for state parks, forests, wildlife habitat, natural, scenic and cultural resources for public use. A portion of stateside funds are also dedicated to capital improvements, critical maintenance, and operations in state parks. Stateside POS projects are now being driven by a new Targeting System, which uses the best scientific information available to target the program's limited funds.
  • The Local side of POS makes funds available to local government to help them buy land and build park facilities that will help them meet their specific goals of Land Conservation and Recreation for their citizens. To date over 5,000 local grants projects have either acquired land or built facilities for Maryland's' conservation and recreation needs.
  • Maryland's Rural Legacy (RLP) was created within the DNR to preserve large blocks of working rural lands for future generations. The Program protects natural, cultural, agricultural, forest and environmental resources from urban sprawl development and promotes land conservation statewide by granting funds to local governments and land trusts to conserve land through easement and fee purchases within designated rural legacy areas. The RLP is using an objective scoring approach similar to the POS Targeting to review and allocate its limited grant funds.

    The Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) was formed in 1967 to conserve, improve, stimulate, and perpetuate the aesthetic, natural, scenic and cultural aspects of the Maryland environment. The Trust also promotes conservation of open space, and appreciation of the environment and its care. Four main programs come under the Trust: Conservation Easements, Keep Maryland Beautiful, Local Land Trust Assistance, and Rural Historic Village Protection.

    Acreage reports for individual programs.

    Photo of Maryland landscape showing Open Space

    Program Open Space

    The POS program acquires recreation and open space areas for local public use.

    Maryland rural scene

    Rural Legacy

    This program protects cultural, agricultural, forest and environmental resources from urban sprawl.

    Land protected by Conservation Easement


    The Maryland Environmental Trust protects Maryland’s open spaces, farms, forests, and scenic landscapes.

    Land conserved in Maryland

    Acreage Reports

    Details lands protected by fee simple ownership and long-term or permanent easements.