Open Space - Management and Enforcement

 The total estimated amount of open space in Ridgefield is 5,636 acres, or 25.2 percent of the town's 22,387 acres of land:

  • Town of Ridgefield (owned, easements, and parks) - 3,182 acres
  • Land Conservancy (owned and easements) - 702 acres
  • State and federal -1,417 acres
  • Privately owned properties - 335 acres

The Ridgefield Open Space Inventory, updated in May 2021, presents how those quantities were calculated.

The Town has a goal of 30 percent for open space, which corresponds to 6,716 acres. Thus we are short of our goal by 1,080 acres. The commission undertook a study that presented the historic perspective of open space acquisition with a series of possbile approaches to achieving our 30 perent goal. See Status of Open Space in Ridgefield (January 2020).

Open Space Acquisition

To help the town achieve its objective of 30 percent permanently protected open space (as per the town's Plan of Conservation Development), the Conservation Commission plans for open space acquisitions by cultivating relationships with land owners and routinely updating a listing of desired open space. Open space is acquired through donations of land and through purchases funded by the Open Space Conservation Fund and town funds.

  • Open Space Conservation Fund - The Open Space Conservation Fund, established in 1963, is used exclusively for the purchase of land. The fund accepts gifts of money, securities or property. It consists of donations from individuals and organizations in Ridgefield as well as monies received in lieu of open space obtained from subdivision redevelopment. The fund is eligible for matching grants of many businesses and organizations. The town welcomes donations to the Open Space Conservation Fund at any time. To make a donation, contact us at the Ridgefield Conservation Commission.  Once per year we run an Open Space Annual Appeal.
  • Land Swaps and Easement Changes - The commission oversees both open space and open space easements. From time to time the commission finds it advantageous to do land swaps and make changes to conservation easements. Guidelines that the commission uses for Land Swaps and Easement Changes can be found here. These represent the factors that the commission considers when evaluating land swaps and easement changes.

Open Space Enforcement

As we have seen an increasing amount of damage to the town's open space over recent years, including the cutting down of mature trees, the Conservation Commission championed an update of several chapters of the town code:

The revised chapters were approved at a Town Meeting on May 4, 2016. The commission is now using the new ordinance to deal with violations in town open space.