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The run on parks
It was just a few minutes past ten on a beautiful Sunday morning this spring, but the parking lot at the Patapsco State Park trailhead on Hilltop Road was already full. Only with difficulty could I squeeze my smallish car in at the very end of the lot, my only chance since the State Park police has posted large signs on Hilltop road that threatened $250 tickets for overflow parking along the road. For no good reason, I thought, who wants to deter people from hiking? Turns out, Maryland's park rangers restrict parking to avoid that parks get overburdened. Just a few years back, there was never a problem with parking or overburdening, but then came COVID and park visitations exploded.
Turns out that when everyone was locked up in some kind of isolation, the outdoors became the place to be. That was a good thing, given how much being out in nature apparently....
Can the increased outdoor activity be maintained even after Covid subsides? Can a part of the outdoor adverse be converted to become outdoor users? Can outdoor participation become more diverse? Can our open spaces accommodate the increased demand and most importantly, do disadvantaged communities who need open space the most, have sufficient space and have they access to it?
See FULL ARTICLE HERE
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My first comment is anecdotal: Living and working about 60 miles north of NYC (in the beautiful Hudson Valley), I find it ironic that our abundant trail and park systems are enjoyed not so much by locals, but by enthusiasts from NYC. Very early on Saturday mornings parking lots at Bear Mountain State Park, Anthony's Nose, Breakneck, Mount Beacon, "the Gunks," etc. are filled to capacity. I've literally tried to visit each one on a single day, being denied access at each stop. Hence, additional recreational green space is warranted as well as the access thereto (much of the Hudson River shorline is an unaccessable, underutilized recreational resource). What I also find ironic is that, while Hudson Valley residents are blessed with greenspace, they do not walk, run, bike, and hike like their city counterparts do. Part of that is the result of learned conditioning. The other part, and this is related to those of us that do enjoy such green activities, is that so much of our road systems are void of shoulders, bike lanes, or sidewalks that would facilitate. It is too dangerous to walk, run, or bike our Valley and countryside.
My second comment is based upon facts. Because of the exodus to New York's upstate trail systems and the zealous use of such green areas, significant erosion has occurred (not only on the trails themselves, but in areas that were intended to be undisturbed). Additionally, trash and debris have been discarded in such areas. Consequently, the areas have been and continue to be shut-down so that recovery and clean-up can occur. These events suggest two things - We need more accessible recreational green space and, we need to love and respect the natural environment loaned to us by God.
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