The State of Maryland recently announced the preliminary FY24 budget, including $102 million to fully replenish Program Open Space, eight years ahead of schedule to accelerate land conservation projects. Although still preliminary, Preservation Maryland is pleased to see support for a program we have long championed through our advocacy work and our Smart Growth program. 

Investing in Maryland’s Future

Funding for Program Open Space also means an investment in Maryland’s economic future. Outdoor recreation, including walking at historic sites and at state and local parks, is a proven economic driver for Maryland, with funds generated from within the community as well as from visitors coming to Maryland specifically for recreational activities and historic experiences.

In the newly released preliminary budget, Governor Hogan recommends fully replenishing Program Open Space, 8 years ahead of the scheduled repayment plan. After years of raiding, we applaud the governor for fully reinvesting in protecting one of Marylands most important resources

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:

  • More than 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,
  • More than 31,000 acres of local park land,
  • 35 Rural Legacy areas, preserving more than 85,000 acres,
  • At least 286,000 acres of farmland under Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (MALPF) easement. 

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