Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy announced awards of more than $9 million in open space and watershed land acquisition grants to support 35 communities in purchasing 2,732 acres for preservation as open space.

The program - which the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, or DEEP, administers - assists land purchases using state bonds and funding from the 2005 Community Investment Act.

Land purchases help Connecticut achieve the goal to protect 673,210 acres of land by 2023. The state has 496,182 acres designated as state or local open space lands, 73.7% of the goal.

More than $109 million in state funding has been awarded to municipalities, nonprofit land conservation organizations and water companies to assist in the purchase of 27,440 acres of land in 128 cities and towns.

"The community gardens initiative was added to the open space grant program in 2007 to address land preservation needs in urban areas," said DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty. "This portion of the grant program acknowledges that preserving places people care about is as important in our cities and inner suburbs as it is in more rural areas."

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