Empire State Trail
Research & Policy

Open Spaces for All (2022)

Image Credit: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

A Vision for an Inclusive, Accessible, & Equitable Open Space System in New York State

Open spaces are essential resources for public health and the environment: they provide places for recreation, cultural enrichment, learning, exercise, and relaxation, as well as crucial support for wildlife and habitat, clean air and water, and local economies.

The global Covid-19 pandemic underscored the critical importance of open space for human health and well-being as people flocked to parks and trails. However, many people — especially those from low-income and marginalized communities — were not able to easily access and enjoy the state’s abundant open spaces.

In response, OSI and the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition (NYORC) partnered to create Open Spaces for All: a new, statewide plan that aims to make millions of acres of parks and open spaces more welcoming and accessible for New Yorkers and out-of-state visitors alike.

The report establishes a vision for change, to support strategic priorities for improving and enhancing policies, programs, and initiatives; and to empower creative partnerships to encourage and engage a growing and increasingly diverse constituency of open space users.

Open Spaces for All

Let’s make access to New York’s open spaces equitable, together.

Read the Full Report

Open Spaces for All was funded in part by the Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund, Overhills Foundation, Samuel Freeman Charitable Foundation, and an individual contributor.

Whitewater Rafting11 Image Credit: Photo courtesy of SUNY Potsdam Live Now

Quotes from partners:

“Open Space for All is full of strong ideas that bolster our agency’s commitment to equitable access to our State Parks.” - Erik Kulleseid, New York State Parks Commissioner

“This report is an important first step to ensure that barriers to enjoying the outdoors are identified and eliminated.” - Joshua Howard, Executive Director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

“Open Spaces for All is unprecedented in its scope and in engaging authentic voices and diverse communities that are directly impacted by chronic lack of access to nature.” - Lucienne Nicholson, Founder and Executive Director of Inclusive Woods & Us

"It is so refreshing to see the ideas and aspirations of LGBTQ+ people included in the Open Spaces for All project. Our visibility and engagement are often overlooked, particularly in the outdoor industry. The project's framework presents an innovative approach to building a welcoming outdoors where all can safely and equitably participate in the outdoor economy and in outdoor recreation.” - Keith Oberlin, Founder and Adventure Director of Get Out And Trek

“We support Open Spaces for All because it recommends key actions we need to take, including the support of community-led initiatives and investment, to improve the experiences of all communities and amplify Black joy in the outdoors.” - Chaya Harris, National Program Director for Outdoor Afro

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