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Plan outlines ways to better connect people to nature

Posted 10/14/22

Parks & Trails New York has announced its support of Open Spaces for All.

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Plan outlines ways to better connect people to nature


ALBANY — Parks & Trails New York has announced its support of Open Spaces for All, a report issued by the Open Space Institute, in partnership with the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition, which presents a set of state-level recommendations designed to improve equity and access to parks and other open spaces for residents and visitors of New York.

The full report can be viewed at  

Informed by a two-year process which included surveys, focus groups, and stakeholder engagement, Open Spaces for All identifies structural and societal barriers that hinder access and enjoyment of public parks, green spaces, open spaces, and other outdoor amenities for people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and other under-represented or marginalized groups, the announcement said. 

The plan presents state-level guidance for policies, programs, initiatives, and creative partnerships to engage and support a growing and increasingly diverse constituency of open space users. 

Open Spaces for All guidance includes: 

  • Engaging and empowering communities and community partners;
  • Prioritizing equity at the forefront of future park and open space investments;
  • Building support and capacity for implementation of recommendations and improvements; and
  • Engagement of Indigenous peoples on issues of access, equity, and historical preservation, and honoring and protecting their unique connection to the land.   

The plan is intended to serve the state’s leaders, recreation providers and land managers as well as the greater outdoor recreation industry, nonprofit organizations, community groups and open space partners. 

“Open Spaces for All is the first state-level plan in the nation solely dedicated to addressing issues of equitable access to the outdoors,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “This report delivers a blueprint for strategic investment in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice as critical components for New York’s magnificent open spaces. Open Spaces for All will catalyze meaningful change toward future policies, programs, and initiatives grounded in equity, representation, and inclusion.”

“Open Spaces for All is charting a course for our country that considers sustainability of our public lands as a matter of both infrastructure and equitable access to the outdoors. At REI we believe a life outside is a life well lived, and that it is our responsibility to remove the barriers to entry that so many marginalized communities across the United States experience. We are proud to be a part of this important project and will continue to invest in its evolution and implementation in the future,” said Melissa Abramson, REI National Field Manager and Co-Chair, NYORC.

“Ensuring all New Yorkers are aware of and have access to State lands is integral to equitable state land management and the Open Spaces for All plan complements DEC’s ongoing efforts to ensure access to these treasured areas for visitors of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to enjoy — particularly those who have experienced barriers to enjoying public lands,” said State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC is grateful to our partners at the Open Space Institute and the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition for their continued commitment to working collaboratively to protect public lands and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience the beauty of New York’s natural resources.”

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “I applaud the Open Space Institute and New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition for their important work to help more people fully enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation. Open Spaces for All is full of strong ideas that bolster our agency’s commitment to equitable access to our State Parks. We look forward to working with stakeholders to advance these goals.”


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