Reopening considerations for outdoor recreation and its impact on mental health

What will the lasting impact of the COVID-19 crisis be for outdoor recreation? As indoor activities shuttered for safety concerns, citizens flocked to local parks, trails, and outdoor recreation areas. Will this shift outdoor recreation to the forefront, aiding in funding for improvements? Will people look for walkable neighborhoods the next time they relocate? Our landscape architects have been wrestling with these questions and looking for ways they can provide services in the post-COVID era. Designing walkable neighborhoods, new-and-improved trail systems, and aiding public recreation departments with grant funding applications are all services we will continue to provide. We hope that one lasting effect of the pandemic will be the increased usage of the wealth of outdoor resources in our area. Check out a list of outdoor recreation opportunities in the Spokane area here. GreenPlay LLC, a Bernardo Wills Architects consultant, has a wealth of information regarding the impact outdoor recreation has on mental health. In their article “Access to Parks and the Outdoors Crucial for Mental Health in our Communities,” Teresa L. Penbrooke, Ph.D., CPRE outlines ways designers and outdoor recreation providers can plan for the future in order to improve access that positively impacts the public. Here are some of her recommendations:

  • Add greenspace and bluespace (access to and views of water) places, activities, and views closer in and equitably around the community.
  • Help people start and continue green or blue activities, especially in times of high stress.
  • Make green spaces serve multiple activities and uses.
  • Reconsider barriers to use (fees, parking, etc.).
  • Identify and promote awareness of parks and natural areas.
  • Value overall parks and recreation system planning to identify gaps and needs for places and programs.

Read the full article here.

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