Your local park is likely your prime hiking spot if you’re one who loves the outdoors. Hiking is a great way to stay in shape, meet other people and enjoy nature without paying hundreds for a gym membership. Parks, community gardens and other green spaces make it possible for you to take pleasure in nature’s best elements. Why not give them a hand in return?
Supporting your local park doesn’t always have to be monetary. You can volunteer, offer feedback and suggestions, encourage others to visit or even work for a park service. These green spaces are pleasant places to be and provide countless benefits for the surrounding neighborhoods. When you assist them, they support you back. Here are some ways you can benefit from helping out your local park service:
1. Increased Sense of Community
Many people view parks and other green spaces as necessities in their neighborhoods. Parks foster community among residents — even those who don’t visit it often. Anyone can go to a park and attend a group activity or lounge with others, making it an appealing place for socializing. People can work on their wellness by running, hiking and doing fitness challenges, which makes them feel confident. When people feel positive emotions — whether about themselves or others — they’re more likely to welcome interpersonal interactions.
2. Park Restoration
Parks use donated funds to restore their grounds and replace old, failing equipment with new facilities. Renewing and maintaining equipment improves the aesthetic value of the park and makes it safer for adolescents to play. The National Recreation and Park Association revitalizes or builds one park each year through the Parks Build Community project. This initiative helps neighborhoods — especially underserved ones — have safe, beautiful places to gather and socialize.
Helping your local park means you could have new or improved trails to hike on. Park services with adequate funds and volunteers are better able to remodel their facilities or build new ones. A change of scenery can be the driving factor in encouraging individuals to hike and exercise regularly.
3. Wildlife Conservation
Green spaces attract animals and insects, especially when the community is receptive to wildlife. Preserving the parks protects the homes of animals who live, hunt, mate and sleep there. Park managers encourage biodiversity by planting native flora and creating safe places for migratory creatures. Biodiverse areas flourish on several levels, including soil fertility and water quality.
Humans benefit from the presence of wildlife, too. People travel to parks to bird watch and spot native creatures, and they bring family and friends with them. Seeing nature in action can encourage people to care for the environment — even those who were previously uninterested.
4. Safer Hikes
Green spaces have a relationship with lowered crime rates in some cities. A maintained park signals to criminals that the neighborhood is well-cared for, which means more people will notice suspicious happenings. The likely offenders are deterred from committing crimes in these areas, making it safer for you and other park-goers to visit communal hangouts. A study of the Bloomingdale Trail in Chicago showed the walkway’s presence is associated with lower rates of disorderly, violent and property crimes.
5. More Recreation
If you want to meet up with others or engage in group activities, the park is often a prime spot. These community spaces are accessible and friendly to all ages — qualities that lend themselves well to recreation. If the hiking trails are well-kept, you’ll find increasing numbers of people traveling them. You may make connections with these fellow nature-lovers and start hiking groups or other initiatives.
Trails and parks allow you to exercise and make friends, which can lead to hiking trips and monthly group activities. Other park-goers may decide to form similar clubs, which leads to additional recreational opportunities within your area.
6. Better Air Quality
Trees and plants remove carbon dioxide from the air — a greenhouse gas emission that has severe consequences for the planet. Greenery eases the burden of air pollution by absorbing CO2 and storing it within the soil. This compound isn’t so beneficial for your air quality, but the dirt thrives from it. The earth produces nutrients for the greenery to nourish itself, and the trees supply more CO2 in turn.
It’s a magnificent cycle that ultimately enhances your hiking experience. You’ll have fresh, clean oxygen to breathe instead of polluted air, which is better for your health.
7. Enhanced Business
Many people know national parks receive ample attention and tourism. People book trips to Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon every year. And who can blame them? Nature’s beauty is hard to match, and seeing it up close is an unforgettable experience.
Your neighborhood park doesn’t have to be known nationally, though, for it to bring business. Even if it receives a few hundred tourists a year, that’s still added revenue. This money supports the park service itself and the local mom and pop shops, bookstores, grocers and more.
8. Social Equity
Community spaces foster social equity by offering a place for people from all demographics to mingle. It may be difficult for you to meet new people or experience diversity if you don’t often venture outside the usual routine. Parks offer a free space for people to engage where they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Eighty-eight percent of Americans agree local parks are a human right and should be accessible to all community members.
Park Conservation Is a Communal Effort
Brainstorm some ways to support your local park and share them with friends and relatives. Involving more people means a higher payoff for the entire community. One person can make a difference in thousands of lives — add your skills to the effort to preserve parks.