Regional parklands, if properly maintained, add beauty to the area, encouraging new economic development and tourism. Open space also absorbs air pollutants and runoff. However, regional parklands doesn’t change quickly over time. In 1997, Washoe County had one maintenance person for every 20 acres of parklands, but those numbers have more than doubled. National standards at that time called for no more than 12 acres of developed park per maintenance staff person.
Adopt-a-park programs, and partnerships with parks and trails organizations and volunteers have helped to maintain our highly rated regional parks. Washoe County’s open space plan is being updated, including a more meaningful way to report on open space. Possible new measures include the following (although these metrics are not necessarily actionable for improvement, nor do they provide an early warning system for our quality of life values, or consistent/reliable data):
- Acres of parks/greenspace & connectivity (excluding golf courses)
- Maintenance expenditures per acre of public lands
- Wildlife habitat
- Fish populations
- Acres restored
- Miles of connected multi-use trails
- Public funding dedicated for open spaces & trails
For more information that parks can increase exercise, while improving economic benefits for communities, visit Active Living’s infographic.