U.S. City Parks Added 5,000 Acres Last Year

The Trust for Public Land released a report stating that the 77 largest city park systems in the U.S., which cover more than 1.3 million acres, added 5,000 acres of parkland over the past year. The Trust for Public Land offered a range of facts and figures: “Big-city park departments last year offered 56 million urban residents 10,419 park playgrounds, 1,290 swimming pools, 466 dog parks, and 386 public golf courses, while spending $5.7 billion on their park and recreation systems.”

Within the big cities, there are 20,705 parks. Cities that provide large amounts of parkland per 1,000 residents include Jacksonville, Albuquerque, El Paso, Virginia Beach, and Kansas City, Mo. Denser cities that offer residents the most green space include St. Paul, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Seattle. Anchorage, Alaska offers the most parkland within its city limits. The report cites the “gargantuan Chugach State Park” that resides with Anchorage. Several cities provide considerable parkland as a percent of the city’s area. These include New York City, San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Raleigh, and Austin.

The Trust for Public Land also tracks how much is spent on city parks per year.  “The best-funded major city park and recreation departments were in San Francisco ($300 per resident), Chandler, Ariz. ($279), Washington, D.C. ($277), Seattle ($259), and Minneapolis ($214). The least-funded departments were in Buffalo ($12 per resident), Stockton ($23), El Paso ($31), Toledo ($38), and Memphis ($39).”

Peter Harnik, director of the Trust’s Center for City Park Excellence said: “We’ve seen reports about cuts around the country, but we cannot confirm this until next year’s survey data. Keeping park budgets strong keeps these prized spaces nurtured when residents have less money to travel, and a great park system needs the constant attention of the city and the constant vigilance of its park users and advocates.” This is particularly true given recent news on the massive California state government cuts to the parks budget (see earlier post).  

Read the full report and see city fact sheets.

Also, check out another study from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RIMO) outlining 25 U.S. parks that are “most threatened” by climate change. TreeHugger writes: “When you think climate change and national parks, you’re probably envisioning an area with trees dying off and maybe loss of some native grasses. But what about the National Parks that are coastal or even islands, like Ellis Island, that will be submerged or at least unviewable as they are underwater?”

Image credit: Teardrop Park, New York, NY, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., New York, NY, client: The Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority

3 thoughts on “U.S. City Parks Added 5,000 Acres Last Year

  1. lewisginter 10/15/2009 / 2:14 pm

    It is wonderful news that we added 5,000 acres of parkland in ONE year! Looks like cities are finally realizing how valuable green space is.

  2. Neil Kiner 10/21/2009 / 10:37 am

    Interesting…but how many acres of developed land were added last year? Does the 5,000 acres of added parkland directly correlate to the added acres of suburbia? How does this compare with the decrease in the residential market over the last couple years?

  3. James T. Sahlstrom 10/21/2009 / 10:51 am

    Oregon was not mentioned in this report,
    maybe it’s because the whole state is a park.

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