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The Value of Volunteers in City Parks

Every year, we ask a series of questions in the 100 largest US cities about parks. We ask those questions of city, county, state and federal parks agencies as well as non-profit partners including park foundations, park friends group, park conservancies and business improvement districts (BIDs). Since 2008, we have asked for volunteering numbers. We have not, to date, reported on these numbers in our annual City Park Facts. We wanted to share the latest years results since we think it’s pretty impressive.

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Planting in Republic Square, Austin

Overall, we had 85 out of the 100 largest cities submit volunteer numbers.

All told, over 16.4 million volunteer hours were recorded, up from 15.5 million hours recorded in 2015.

These hours are equal to 7,895 additional full-time staff that would need to be hired by the 100 largest cities. [This was calculated using the following formula: one full-time staff person works 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year or 2,080 hours per year. We realize that this is a very conservative calculation.]

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Volunteers, Barton Creek Greenbelt, Austin

Another way to look at the contribution of volunteer hours is to assign a monetary value to them. We did this using numbers from Independent Sector. Independent Sector calculates the value of volunteering by state annually, so the amount varies in many of the 100 largest US cities, with the latest national (overall) value being $23.56 per hour. So, those 16.4 million volunteer hours are worth $411 Million using 2015 amounts.

In the meantime, we’re looking for volunteer reports from the following cities (park agencies, park conservancies, friends groups, BIDs, etc. working with volunteers) – Boise, Buffalo, Chesapeake, Chula Vista, El Paso, Fremont, Garland, Gilbert, Honolulu, Irvine, Irving, Laredo, Lubbock, Reno, and  Richmond.

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to tpl.org (weblink: https://www.tpl.org/keywords/center-city-park-excellence)  If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org

7,453 Miles of Parkland Bikeways

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Butler Trail at Lady Bird Lake, Austin, TX

The growing popularity of bikeways (often called hike and bike trails or linear parks) in our parks continues to climb, based on our annual surveys for City Park Facts and Parkscore. Please note that parkland bikeways don’t include bike lanes, sidewalks and other on-street or off-street portions of a city bicycle network or system.

In terms of total miles Irvine leads the pack with 324 miles, Phoenix has 310 miles, Anchorage 295 miles, Scottsdale 269 miles, Jacksonville 244 miles, and Philadelphia 241 miles.

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Grand Rounds Scenic Byway System, Minneapolis

In the Per 10,000 residents column, Number one is Irvine with 13.4 miles per 10,000 residents,  Scottsdale is second with 11.6 miles per 10,000 residents.  Third is Anchorage with 9.7 miles per 10,000 residents.

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Beltline Map, Atlanta

Here are a few of our favorite bikeways, among hundreds to choose from.

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to the Trust for Public Land website. If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org. The City Parks Blog is a joint project of the City Parks Alliance and the Trust for Public Land.

100 Largest US Cities – What’s the deal?

Maybe its time to talk a bit about the 100 largest US cities are and what they represent in terms of acreage, population and where they are located.

To start, the full list is located on Parkscore or you can download the latest City Park Facts PDF. They are chosen by looking at the latest census data and the 2017 list will be the same as the 2016 list.

Acreage: in terms of our reporting for both City Park Facts and Parkscore, the acreage for all 100 largest cities is 11.45 million acres. The total acreage of the United States is 2.3 billion acres, with 1.9 Billion acres in the 48 contiguous states.

The population of the 100 largest US cities is 63.1 Million, which is 19.8 percent of the total population of the United States, which is 318.9 Million.

Overall, the 100 largest cities have 2,055,324 (over 2 million) acres of parkland, which is 17.94% of the total cities acreage. Here’s another of our forthcoming infographics showing the list of cities and the acreage.

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Many of our 100 largest cities are clustered in groups. The biggest groups are in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia, as shown by the map.

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to the Trust for Public Land website. If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org. The City Parks Blog is a joint project of the City Parks Alliance and the Trust for Public Land.

Sneak Peak: Infographics

We’re adding a few new features to the 2017 edition of City Park Facts this year.  One is a two-page spread of infographics highlighting some of the “big numbers” about parks and their amenities in the 100 largest US cities.  Here’s one with the total number of parks.

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Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to tpl.org. If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org.

 

 

Disc Golf: Steady Growth

Have you played disc golf? It shares a lot in common with [regular] golf. A great video overview is here. A wikipedia overview of Disc Golf is here. But, the best way to learn is to head out with a group of golfers and try your hand (and wrist) at it.

According to our latest surveys of the 100 largest US cities, there are 186 disc golf courses in parks, with 51 new courses built and opened since we started collecting data on disc golf in 2013.

Which city is the capital of Disc Golf? In terms of sheer numbers, Charlotte boasts 14 courses, Houston in second place with six courses and Austin and Kansas City tied for third place with five courses each.

But in terms of courses per 100,000 residents, Tulsa (7 courses) leads the way with 1.7 courses per 100,000 residents, with Durham (4 courses) at 1.6 and Charlotte (14 courses) at 1.3, tied with Lexington, KY (4 courses), also at 1.3.  Overall, there are 186 disc golf courses in the 100 largest US cities, rising from 138 in 2013 when we began surveying cities about them.

And for those who want to know more about the professional side of things, visit the Professional Disc Golf association website. They report that there are over 5,000 disc golf courses in the United States, with “most open to the public.”

Learn more about City Park trends in the 2017 edition of City Park Facts, coming in April to tpl.org (weblink: https://www.tpl.org/keywords/center-city-park-excellence)  If you have questions or comments about this or other city park facts, contact us at ccpe@tpl.org