Making a Case for Undeveloped Open Spaces

Making a Case for Undeveloped Open Spaces
Park and recreation agencies are leaders in preserving the natural landscape of the community they serve. NRPA’s Park Metrics reveals that the typical agency has management responsibility of more than 425 acres of developed and undeveloped open space. More than 40 percent of those acres are undeveloped. Choosing to develop or not develop a piece of land comes with great responsibilities as well as great consequences.

Despite the economic setbacks the United States faced in the early 2000s, urban sprawl has continued to be a threat to rural and pasture lands and natural habitats. According to the American Farmland Trust, more than 24 million acres of agricultural land — an area the size of the states of Indiana and Rhode Island combined — was developed between 1982 and 2010. A 2005 collaborative study, released by the National Wildlife Federation, Smart Growth America and NatureServe, found that rapid consumption of land could threaten the survival of nearly one out of every three imperiled species in the United States. The study goes on to report that in some areas, “existing parks and other public lands may help sustain these species and mitigate this loss of green space. However, species will not benefit unless those lands are managed specifically for wildlife protection.”

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