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ADK Applauds “Open Spaces for All” Report

ADK Applauds “Open Spaces for All” Report

October 6, 2022

The Open Space Institute (OSI), in partnership with the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition (NYORC), recently issued Open Spaces for All, a comprehensive set of state-level recommendations designed to improve equity and access to parks and other open spaces for visitors and residents of New York State. The full report can be viewed at www.openspaceinstitute.org/research/openspacesforall.

Rooted in a multiyear research and community engagement process, Open Spaces for All identifies structural and societal barriers that hinder access and enjoyment of public parks, green spaces, and other outdoor amenities for people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and other underrepresented or marginalized groups. The plan proposes guidance for future policies, programs, initiatives, and creative partnerships to engage and support a growing and increasingly diverse constituency of visitors. Open Spaces for All guidance includes:

  • Engaging and empowering communities and partners.
  • Prioritizing equity at the forefront of future park and open space investments.
  • Building support and capacity for implementation of recommendations and
  • improvements.
  • Honoring Indigenous people and their connections 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 plans focused solely on providing recommendations to improve access, equity, and inclusion at public parks and green spaces for all,” said Kim Elliman President and CEO, OSI. “This report delivers a blueprint for strategic investment in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice as critical components for future policies and programs in and around New York’s magnificent open spaces. Open Spaces for All will catalyze meaningful change toward future projects 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.”

“All New Yorkers, regardless of their background, should have access to this state’s incredible outdoor spaces. Today, we are taking a step toward realizing that goal through the Open Spaces for All report, which provides actionable steps for ensuring that New York’s public lands and waters are open—and welcoming—to all,” said Michael Barrett, ADK Executive Director

The Open Spaces for All report was created by OSI in partnership with NYORC, with input from more than 200 individuals representing diverse social and economic identities, community groups, nonprofit organizations, businesses, existing users, thought leaders, non-traditional stakeholders, and government entities from across the state. The plan was guided by a steering committee composed of members from OSI, NYORC, Inclusive Woods and Us, New York New Jersey Trail Conference, Center for Diversity at SUNY Potsdam, REI, and Get Out and Trek. Open Spaces for All was made possible with generous support from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund, Overhills Foundation, Samuel Freeman Charitable Foundation, and an individual contributor. Research support and analysis was provided by Potrero Group.

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