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Share your ideas to make access to King County parks, trails, and natural areas more equitable

Summary

King County Parks, The Wilderness Society and ECOSS have partnered to create an online survey, available through July 22, for the public to share thoughts on improving access to parks, trails, and natural areas in King County, particularly in underserved communities.

Story

King County Parks and equity_survey_for_webpartners The Wilderness Society (TWS) and ECOSS have launched the Equitable Park Access Community Survey, asking King County residents to share their priorities, needs, and barriers around all aspects of park, trail, and natural area access — from transit, to safety, to cost, to accessibility. The main focus of the survey is to generate a strong response from the County’s priority populations, which are residents of south King County and Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian, refugee, and immigrant communities.

This community engagement effort was prompted by the inequities in green space access identified in King County’s Land Conservation Initiative, the State of Play report, and a recent study by TWS — inequities that have been further spotlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While King County Metro provides access to parks and green spaces through services like Trailhead Direct and many regular bus routes, and is working to bridge gaps through its Metro Connects long-range plan, inequities still exist.

According to the TWS study, 87 percent of Seattle residents can reach a local park within a half-mile, but only 46 percent of the rest of King County can, including large gaps in south King County and communities of color. The study highlights opportunities to improve park access in south, east and other areas in King County. 
  
In Tukwila and Renton, less than half of the residents live within a half mile of a park.

While only 61 percent of King County’s priority populations live within a half mile of a park, 92 percent live within two miles of a community or regional park. Transit can close the gap between people and quality parks that are otherwise too far or too difficult to reach.

“We want to improve connections to nature for everyone, especially in areas like south King County where residents may face more obstacles to accessing parks, trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Warren Jimenez, King County Parks Director. “The first step to creating equitable, informed solutions is to listen to what community members want and need. We’re eager to hear and use their ideas to inform the County’s work in partnership with other jurisdictions around access to and design of parks.”

“Race, place, income, ethnicity, and immigration status shouldn’t affect our access to good transportation or safe, inviting parks, trails, and natural areas – or our ability to weigh in on park planning decisions,” said Will Chen, Communications Manager at ECOSS. “The Equitable Park Access survey is an important step to make sure King County hears from communities who historically have had the least opportunity to inform planning decisions, while simultaneously having some of the biggest gaps in quality and access to parks.”

The survey is part of a broader community needs assessment that King County Parks is conducting with ECOSS, TWS and 12 other community partners. In addition to the online survey, the groups have gathered feedback through a series of partner-led roundtables. The goal is to gather community data around park access that can be used to inform new and existing projects, grantmaking, investments, levy planning, and other areas of focus, such as the 2022 Open Space Plan update.

A desired outcome of this type of community engagement is to create space for those who know their communities best to help collect meaningful feedback to make values- and data-driven decisions. King County Parks hopes to bring to light the overlap of disparities and opportunities that exist between all agencies, jurisdictions, and community-based organizations in order to collaboratively work towards improved outcomes for Black, Indigenous, Latino, Asian, refugee, and immigrant communities. 

“King County is home to many beautiful natural areas but not everyone has easy access to them, and we know a lack of transportation can be a barrier,” said Elena Arakaki, Seattle Urban to Wild Coordinator at The Wilderness Society. “The input and ideas we gather from community members will be critical to making the most equitable decisions about public transit and parks.”

The Equitable Park Access Community Survey is available online in nine languages – English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Swahili, Somali, French, Khmer, Korean and Simplified Chinese – and closes on July 22.

QUOTES

 

We want to improve connections to nature for everyone, especially in areas like south King County where residents may face more obstacles to accessing parks, trails, and other outdoor recreation opportunities. The first step to creating equitable, informed solutions is to listen to what community members want and need. We’re eager to hear and use their ideas to inform the County’s work in partnership with other jurisdictions around access to and design of parks.

Warren Jimenez, Director, King County Parks


Race, place, income, ethnicity, and immigration status shouldn’t affect our access to good transportation or safe, inviting parks, trails, and natural areas – or our ability to weigh in on park planning decisions. The Equitable Park Access survey is an important step to make sure King County hears from communities who historically have had the least opportunity to inform planning decisions, while simultaneously having some of the biggest gaps in quality and access to parks.

Will Chen, Communications Manager, ECOSS


King County is home to many beautiful natural areas but not everyone has easy access to them, and we know a lack of transportation can be a barrier. The input and ideas we gather from community members will be critical to making the most equitable decisions about public transit and parks.

Elena Arakaki, Seattle Urban to Wild Coordinator at The Wilderness Society



RELEVANT LINKS

 

• Equitable Park Access Community Survey
• King County 2022 Open Space Plan

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Doug Williams, King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, 206-477-4543

About King County Parks
King County Parks - Your Big Backyard - offers 205 parks and 32,000 acres of open space, including popular destinations such as Marymoor Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, plus 175 miles of regional trails, 250 miles of backcountry trails, and a world-class aquatic center. We envision parks, trails, and natural lands for all, sustained with the cooperative efforts of our community.


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