By Dom Nozzi
December 17, 2002
People appreciate something if they are exposed to it.
The only way for most kids to have EASY, regular access to vacant, weedy woodlots that tend to be sprinkled throughout a community is that they be within walking distance of residences in neighborhoods.
In other words, if we expect to raise kids that grow up to be conservationists, it is not enough for us to teach them about ecology in classrooms and have large natural preserves way outside a city in a place that cannot be reached by a kid on foot or bike. The woodlots need to be within easy reach of where kids live, so we need to be sure that neighborhoods are designed so that most homes are within walking distance of small parks — parks that are active and utilitarian. And not necessarily supportive of a rare, sensitive, valuable ecosystem.
These are, of course, important reasons why I have always been a big supporter of running greenway trails through or near neighborhoods.
How many subdivisions in America have no woodlots that kids can walk to? And how much do we encourage people to relocate into remote, environmentally sensitive areas because we failed to create walkable neighborhoods where it is easy to walk to small urban parks and trails?