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GreenStep City Best Practices Environmental Management

Parks and Trails
no. 18

Support active lifestyles and property values by enhancing the city's green infrastructure.
benefits  
  • A 2006 economic study conducted by Embrace Open Space quantifies the open space premium for homes adjacent to or near open space (parks and natural areas) in Hennepin County.
  • Studies have demonstrated that access to parks and trails increases physical activity - the research findings suggest locating playing areas, parks and trails within a 1/4 mile of residential areas - and that direct contact with vegetation or nature leads to increased mental health and psychological development.
  • After the publication of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder in 2005, author Richard Louv and others co-founded the Children & Nature Network to disseminate results from peer-reviewed scientific literature and innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, all in service of creating a future in which all children play, learn and grow with, and benefit from, nature in their everyday lives.
  • The Center for City Park Excellence of The Trust for Public Land researches best practices in park management, what makes city parks successful, and how parks provide economic, ecological, and social value to their users. See also the City Parks Alliance for case studies of excellent parks, and for infographics on the value of urban parks in the economic, public health, environmental, community, and educational dimensions.
 
Optional for category A, B and C cities
Category C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.

Category B cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least two actions.

Category A cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least three actions.
summary
Along with city trees, city parks and trails soften our daily life spent in buildings, satisfying an innate affinity for the natural world. These green and open spaces can be a defining feature of a city, providing civic gathering spaces, venues for exercise and cost-free recreation, and connections to open space beyond city limits. City parks and trails provide many important ecosystem services, including the purification of air, reduction in the urban heat island effect, stormwater management, wildlife habitat, and carbon sequestration. Parks and trails are also economic development tools, increasing property values in their vicinity. For example, $14 million of 2008 tax revenue of ten GreenStep cities in Hennepin County is attributable to homes located within a half-mile of green space.

And finally, trails can serve important transportation functions, connecting recreational destinations, job centers, retail centers, schools, neighborhoods and points beyond the city.

greenstep advisor
Jenna Fletcher, Program Director, Trust for Public Land: 651-999-5306, Jenna.Fletcher@tpl.org, https://www.tpl.org/our-work/minnesota
connection to state Policy

State law enables cities to require private developers to dedicate up to 10% of a development parcel to parkland (or make an equivalent monetary contribution): MN Statute (2007) 462.358.