Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

August 2020


Data Reveals Racial Disparity in Park Access

The Trust for Public Land recently released a new report revealing that across the nation, parks serving primarily nonwhite populations are half the size of parks that serve majority white populations—and nearly five times as crowded. New data in the report shows that areas within a 10-minute walk of a park can be as much as 6 degrees cooler than areas beyond that range.

"As cities struggle with extreme heat this summer, parks are one of the best ways for residents to find relief," said Diane Regas, CEO and president of The Trust for Public Land. "During COVID-19, other options people turn to for safety during heat waves aren't available, so parks are even more important. We all need and deserve parks—and all of the benefits they provide—all of the time. But during this period of compounded public health emergencies, unequal access to quality parks can be downright dangerous."

The lack of equal access to parks for communities of color is particularly urgent given this summer's soaring temperatures. Each year, more than 65,000 people visit an emergency room for heat-related illness and more than 600 die, according to federal statistics. Parks can help. Surfaces in shade can be up to 45 degrees cooler than those in the sun—and trees can even lower indoor temperatures, especially when shade covers parts of rooftops and windows. The report showed that areas within a 10-minute walk of a park can be as much as 6 degrees cooler than areas beyond that range, but 100 million people in the United States don't have access to a park within a 10-minute walk from home.

The report showed that not everyone has equal access to the kinds of parks that lower temperatures and allow for safe social distancing. It found that parks serving primarily nonwhite populations are half the size of parks serving majority white populations, and five times more crowded. In addition, parks serving majority low-income households are, on average, four times smaller and four times more crowded than parks that serve majority high-income households.

For more information, visit www.tpl.org.


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