Open Space Protection Plan

What is the Burlington Open Space Protection Plan?PlanBTV-ospp-transparent-big-forMiscNeeds.png

The City's 2014 Open Space Protection Plan inventories open space lands and characterizes them with respect to natural areas, urban agriculture, parklands, and green infrastructure.  The Plan also assesses the proximity of residents to existing open space amenities such as community gardens, parks, and the waterfront.  The information in the Plan can be used to identify under-served areas of the city and to determine the best places for open space protection and related open space amenities like community gardens and park lands.


Background and History of the Plan

The original Open Space Protection Plan adopted in 2000 grew out of a 1997 City Council Resolution calling for the creation of “a plan to protect important natural areas and open spaces.” Under the direction of the Conservation Board and based on goals identified in the 1996 Burlington Municipal Development Plan, the 2000 Plan focused on:

  • Identifying, protecting and preserving natural areas and open spaces of local, regional, and statewide significance for the benefit of current and future generations.
  • Maintaining and improving the integrity of natural and recreational systems within the City including:
    • Protecting, maintaining, and enhancing the City’s urban forest, including both large patches of woods and wooded corridors/treebelts that provide places of refuge and travel corridors for wildlife and people;
    • Protecting the shorelines and waters of Lake Champlain, the Winooski River, and other water sources from damage and degradation;
    • Preserving scenic viewpoints and viewsheds; and
    • Increasing the number and quality of small urban open spaces, especially in underserved neighborhoods of the city.
  • Guiding development into the city center and neighborhood activity centers.
  • Ensuring long-term stewardship and appropriate public access to natural areas and open space, including improved opportunities for pedestrian access and interaction throughout the City.


Through 2013 and into 2014, the Open Space Protection Plan was updated to build upon the foundation established by the original Plan.  This effort has updated the open space inventory, reflecting changes in land use and development, but also depicting open spaces at a much finer scale than in the original inventory.  Within the framework of that updated inventory the 2014 Open Space Protection Plan addresses the following key points:

  • Identifies significant natural communities and includes assessment of underrepresented natural communities
  • Identifies prime agricultural soils (state and federally significant)
  • Identifies green infrastructure opportunities within the city’s downtown core
  • Maps formal and informal recreational trails
  • Includes proximity analyses of residents within ½ mile of community garden, public parkland, and the waterfront

The new data in the updated Plan will enable improved decision making relative to new development and acquisition of additional open spaces.  New community garden opportunities can be identified and implemented in underserved areas of the city.  Improvements can be made in the connectivity of the city’s trail network.  Significant natural communities may be preserved, and green infrastructure can take hold within the city’s downtown core.

Land Acquisition

Have an idea of where a new community garden could be located? A new pocket park or trail access? What about a significant natural community that could be protected? The Conservation Legacy Fund is a centerpiece of open space protection in Burlington.  The fund accrues annually from a penny on the property tax and is to be used for open space land acquisition in combination with other public and private funding sources.  Contact the Department of Parks & Recreation for more information, or contact the City's Land Steward, Dan Cahill at  Be sure to refer to the Conservation Legacy Fund.  Here's the application form.