Land Conservation

coastline seen from the air

We manage various land conservation initiatives and coordinate conservation partnerships across the State. Guided by the DEM Land Acquisition Committee, we identify, assess, and acquire lands of State-wide interest and significance. The program is funded by a State voter approved bond funds leveraged with grants from various Federal programs, and non-profit or local organizations. Preserved lands are available to the public for uses including boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, hunting, biking and nature observation. This program supports and promotes healthy outdoor recreational activities, farmland preservation, habitat protection and natural resource preservation. We also oversee all other real estate needs of the Department, including leases, licenses, and land surplus

Farmland conservation is carried out jointly with the DEM's Division of Agriculture and the State's Agricultural Land Preservation Commission. Purchasing development rights from farmers enables them to retain ownership of their property and protects their lands for agricultural use. At the same time it provides farmers with a financially competitive alternative to development. The American Farmland Trust offers a wealth of information on this important conservation option.

Detailed information on our progress may be found in our Annual Report, in summaries of land acquisition projects by Municipality or Year, and through our digital map.

If you are a landowner who has property that you would like to offer to the State for conservation purposes, please complete our application form. Farmers interested in the sale of development rights should submit this application.

Farms, forests, and open space filter and clean our water, provide recreational opportunities, and support our agricultural and tourism economies. They also cool our cities by blocking and absorbing sunlight, and help fight climate change by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide. For a snapshot of how RI is succeeding in protecting land in its fight against climate change, visit the RI climate change dashboard.

The Conservation of Open Space in Rhode Island

map highlighting open space in rhode island