The Heat Is On: A Trust for Public Land Special Report

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Parks—especially those that are densely wooded and deep green—can counter urban temperatures exacerbated by heat-trapping buildings, pavement, and concrete. Given the increased importance of parks during this public health emergency, The Trust for Public Land analyzed park data from across the country to determine who does and doesn’t have access to this vital public resource.

We found:

  • Communities with nearby parks can be dramatically cooler than those in so-called “park deserts.” Our analysis of 14,000 cities and towns shows that nationwide, areas within a 10-minute walk of a park are as much as 6 degrees cooler than areas beyond that range.
  • And yet, not everyone has equal access to the kinds of parks that lower temperatures and allow for safe social distancing. Our data reveals that across the United States, parks serving primarily nonwhite populations are half the size of parks that serve majority white populations and nearly five times more crowded.
  • In addition parks serving majority low-income households are, on average, four times smaller
    and nearly four times more crowded than parks that serve majority high-income households.

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