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Importance of Parks and Recreation

Economic Value

  • Spending at local and regional public parks contributed $140 billion in economic activity and generated nearly 1 million jobs in 2013. When combined with the National Park Service and state park systems, public parks are responsible for $200 billion in annual economic activity (NRPA, 2016).
  • Parks improve the local tax base and increase property values.
  • American Forests, a national conservation organization that promotes forestry, estimates that trees in cities save $400 billion in storm water retention facility costs.
  • Quality parks and recreation are cited as one of the top three reasons that business cite in relocation decisions in a number of studies.
  • Parks and recreation generate money for the local economy. A 2012 study shows Mammoth Cave National Park generates $62 million a year for the south-Central Kentucky area.

Health and Environmental Benefits

  • Parks and recreation facilities are the places that people go to get healthy and stay fit.
  • According to studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, creating, improving and promoting places to be physically active can improve individual and community health and result in a 25 percent increase of residents who exercise at least three times per week.
  • A study by Penn State University showed significant correlations to reductions in stress, lowered blood pressure, and perceived physical health to the length of stay in visits to parks.
  • Parks and protected public lands are proven to improve water quality, protect groundwater, prevent flooding, improve the quality of the air we breathe, provide vegetative buffers to development, produce habitat for wildlife, and provide a place for children and families to connect with nature and recreate outdoors together. 

Social Importance

  • Parks are a tangible reflection of the quality of life in a community.  They provide identity for citizens and are a major factor in the perception of quality of life in a given community.  Parks and recreation services are often cited as one of the most important factors in surveys of how livable communities are.
  • Parks provide gathering places for families and social groups, as well as for individuals of all ages and economic status, regardless of their ability to pay for access.
  • An ongoing study by the Trust for Public Land shows that over the past decade, voter approval rates for bond measures to acquire parks and conserve open space exceeds 75%.  Clearly, the majority of the public views parks as an essential priority for government spending.
  • Parks and recreation programs provide places for health and well-being that are accessible by persons of all ages and abilities, especially to those with disabilities.
  • In a 2007 survey of Fairfax County, VA, residents of 8 of 10 households rated a quality park system either very important or extremely important to their quality of life.
  • Research by the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods indicates that community involvement in neighborhood parks is associated with lower levels of crime and vandalism
  • Access to parks and recreation opportunities has been strongly linked to reductions in crime and to reduced juvenile delinquency.
  • Parks have a value to communities that transcend the amount of dollars invested or the revenues gained from fees.  Parks provide a sense of public pride and cohesion to every community. 

For more information on the value and benefits of parks visit the National Recreation and Parks Association website - www.nrpa.org 

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