The pandemic has been awful in so many ways, but there are a few positive things that have come from it. As a society, we have learned the importance of slowing down and taking life at a more relaxing pace. We value our family and friends more than we ever have. We know how important it is to spend time outdoors and get a breath of fresh air. Compared to a year ago, many of us now look at life differently and know where it is more important to invest our time and energy.
The same can be said for our communities. In the past year, we have been inside public buildings less than ever, and outside more than ever. Hopefully, many people have explored the nature and parks that are right in their own communities. Depending on where you live and which open spaces you have visited, you may now realize that lots of parks and open spaces could use improvements. Investing in our parks and open spaces is so important, COVID-19 has taught us that.
Statistics have proven that outdoor recreation and park usage have increased more than usual over the past year. According to the Wisconsin Policy Forum, sales of state park tickets, fishing licenses, and bird watching equipment went up 27% in 2020. Since local park usage is difficult to measure, these numerical statistics are thought to correlate with park usage in Wisconsin.
Some cities have invested time into counting park users. For example, in Denver, Colorado park usage is estimated to have grown up to 30% in the past year. Also, the walking trails in Fort Worth, Texas were estimated to have 26% more foot traffic than in 2019 [City Parks Alliance]. Most of this new foot traffic is coming from professionals who are no longer tied to a physical office. If working from home becomes normalized after this year, experts think we will see this number continue to hold steady, instead of decrease if people go back to the office.
At Spotz, we see and appreciate the value of public spaces and parks. We want to help cities improve their parks and public spaces, and make them accessible to everyone. Right now, mayors across the country are requesting $500 million from the government to improve local parks. This money would help provide parks to low-income areas, create jobs, stimulate local economic development, bring green spaces into cities, and improve communities overall.
Spotz supports the Mayors For Parks Coalition and Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP). The ORLP would be responsible for dividing up the money into grants and providing it to park development projects.
If you would like to learn more about the Mayors for Parks Coalition please visit their website.