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Green is Good for You!

by Wendi Mueller

The Dallas Morning News recently published an important and enlightening series of articles regarding the significance of the park systems and green space in Dallas. “Green Gems” highlights a park’s ability to bring in organizations, such as the Dallas Youth Sports League (which holds practices and games at Kiest Park), which in turn bring people from all backgrounds together. We have the Dallas Rowing Club based out of Bachman Lake and will be welcoming skaters once the new regional facility is built. Parks are one of the few places open to anyone and used by everyone, and a 2017 survey by the Assembly for Civic Engagement showed that levels of civic trust were higher by 2% for people living within walking distance of a park, and 10% for those living near a popular park. Living near a heavily littered and unkempt park, however, significantly lowered levels of civic trust. We need to make sure that the Parks Department is maintaining what we have and what will be built - no one wants litter or dirty bathrooms at Bachman Lake.

The article “Dallas’s Trinity Forest Renewed My Soul” reminds readers that the Great Trinity Forest is right in our own backyard and provides hiking trails and parks that provide an escape from city life, even if only for a few hours. These spaces have proven even more popular – and important – during the pandemic when residents are often forced to stay home or at least socially distanced from others - something that can often be difficult in an urban environment. It is important that these spaces be protect and that they be made more accessible to the community. The picture posted in this article is only 1/4 of a mile from Bachman Lake Park! Yes folks, we have an urban forest at our footstep thanks to the work done by Groundwork Dallas. It is important that we all talk to our City Council representatives (D2, D6 and D13) demanding access from Bachman Lake Park to the Frasier Dam Recreation area.

One other article, points to the fact that parks are viewed as not only equitable spaces where we engage with others regardless of background or socioeconomic status, but they can also increase social capitalism and civically engaged residents as well. According to Reimagining the Civic Commons, well-designed and managed spaces build trust within a community. This often bridges the gap between residents, which is one goal for the new Southern Gateway Park currently underway in Oak Cliff. A city that is plagued by systemic inequalities could benefit exponentially from something as simple as a city park. In the case of Bachman Lake Park, bridges is exactly what we need in order to gain access to the one and only major park in the area. Yet, we are instead seeing infrastructure proposals that could affect the size of the park and access to other green spaces. Environmental justice is not at work in Northwest Dallas...

We are all seeing a huge influx of new residents, Texas in fact accounted for 32.4% of the 2019-2020 U.S. population growth, so planning for parks and green space is more important than ever (“Building On Our Success,”) Parks reduce the urban heat island effect and improve air quality, but also boost the economy by providing jobs and increasing home values. Did you know that the Bachman Area and Northwest Dallas are in the 'heat cone' and thus in need of more green spaces and trees? Dallas’s tree canopy is not evenly distributed, and it is no surprise that this mostly affects low-income neighborhoods.

Finally, “Greenspace in a Concrete Jungle”, written by Calvert Collins-Braton, the D13 Parks Board Representative, highlights the fact that Dallas’s parks department is among the largest municipal park systems in the nation and returns $678 million to the local economy annually. There is significant investment in green infrastructure happening now, and we must keep it going. For every dollar spent on parks, playgrounds, and recreational amenities, there is a 7-to-1 return on investments, and for trails that jumps to 50-to-1. The Trust for Public Land recently ranked Dallas 50 out of 100 cities in the nation for best park systems. This is a number that should continually be improved upon, and organizations such as Friends of Bachman Lake are doing their part to ensure that our own greenspace – Bachman Lake and its surrounding parks – remains an important part of our city landscape. Connecting this space to other trail systems, protecting our trees and green space, and promoting this natural habitat is an important role that all of us can take now for the benefit of generations to come.



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