Trust for Public Land Celebrates 50 Years

Trust for Public Land is celebrating its 50th anniversary by embarking on a year of community investments and impact. TPL is honoring its 50-year legacy by addressing the national outdoor equity gap, prioritizing strong relationships with indigenous communities, and preserving sites that represent black history and culture to ensure nationally protected outdoor places tell the full American story.

With 100 million people—including 28 million children—lacking a park or greenspace within a 10-minute walk from home, there is much work to be done to close this significant access gap. The disparities are worse for people of color and low-income communities, which is why, in the U.S., zip code is often a better indicator of public health and lifespan than genetic code.

“From protecting vast stretches of open space to revamping schoolyards, trails and parks, TPL has always strived for equity, inclusion and access for everyone,” said Diane Regas, president and CEO of Trust for Public Land. “In 2023, we will reflect on our organization’s first 50 years of impact while looking ahead to the important work still to be done. At this exciting 50-year milestone, we are doubling down on our work to foster connected, healthy communities through access to nature.”

Most of TPL’s early work was focused on the San Francisco Bay Area—the organization was instrumental in the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the largest urban parks in the world. TPL also partnered with the Black Panthers to acquire dozens of vacant properties and transform them into miniparks, gardens and playgrounds. That work evolved into the Urban Land program, which spread across the country to New York, where hundreds of vacant lots were transformed into community gardens. This helped lead to even more ambitious efforts, like the Community Schoolyards program, where TPL incorporates featured elements designed by students into each transformed schoolyard, empowering young people and giving them a sense of ownership over these spaces.

TPL’s 50 years of impact can also be seen and experienced in iconic national treasures such as Zion, Yosemite and Saguaro National Parks, and along our National Scenic Trails, including the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, Continental Divide and Ala Kahakai. TPL has helped to conserve more than a dozen sites of significance that represent black history and culture—including the childhood neighborhood of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, now a National Historic Park.

The organization has forged strong partnerships with indigenous communities, helping to protect or return more than 200,000 acres of ancestral lands, including Alakoko Fishpond on the island of Kaua‘i, and Kashia Coastal Reserve on Northern California’s legendary coastline. TPL is also in the process of revitalizing schoolyards on tribal lands in places like Chiloquin, in Klamath County, Ore., to both serve as dynamic playgrounds for students and as gathering spaces for the community.

TPL has also worked hand in hand with communities to create cherished neighborhood parks like Cook Park in Atlanta’s historic Vine City district, Boeddecker Park in the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, the vibrant Midway Peace Park in St. Paul, Minn., as well as the series of parks along Five Mile Creek Urban Greenbelt in Dallas, Texas.

All told, TPL has worked with local, state and national partners to preserve nearly 4 million acres and create or enhance more than 5,364 community parks, putting quality green space within a 10-minute walk of nearly 9.4 million people.