Program Open Space

The Program

In 1969, the Maryland General Assembly created Program Open Space through the institution of a transfer tax of 0.5 percent on every real estate transaction in the state. Since then the program has been responsible for:

  • 319,000 acres of open space for state parts and natural resource areas,
  • Creation and funding of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority & heritage area grants,
  • More than 6,100 individual county and municipal parks and conservation areas,
  • 31,000 acres of local park land,
  • 31 Rural Legacy areas, preserving 77,000 acres,
  • 286,000 acres of farmland under Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) easement.

The Challenge: This program is constantly threatened. Despite its incredible track-record, the positive cash-flow of the transfer tax is an obvious target during budget deliberations in Annapolis. Since its creation, this has resulted in nearly $1 BILLION worth of Program Open Space funding being diverted from the program. If those funds had been used a promised, the state could have created: 1,200 new and updated local parks, 185,000 additional acres of permanently preserved farms and forests, and 65,000 additional acres of state parks and valuable ecological areas.

Our Position: Since Program Open Space also funds the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, Preservation Maryland is a staunch supporter of the program. In 2015, Preservation Maryland joined the Executive Committee of the Partners for Open Space, the principal advocacy group dedicated to defending Program Open Space funding. Preservation Maryland supports full funding of this program, opposes any attempts to shortcut, reduce or cap the program in any way, and supports the repayment of previous diversions from the fund.