From the beaches and bays, to the mountains and desert, the quality of life our region offers is widely defined by its natural beauty and interconnected system of parks and natural areas.
Every day, you will find San Diegans out enjoying hundreds of parks and outdoor spaces across the County. Whether it’s biking along the re-activated Escondido Creek Trail or gathering with family and friends at the new Community Park in Imperial Beach, San Diegans recognize the value and importance of local parks and outdoor experiences in their day-to-day life.
But not every San Diegan is afforded the same opportunities and access to the outdoors.
In 2010, The San Diego Foundation commissioned the Parks for Everyone report to better understand green access in the San Diego region. The report found that while 45 percent of San Diego County’s total land area is green space, many low-income, ethnically diverse communities have limited access to parks and open spaces.
As a result of these findings, The San Diego Foundation took action to close the environmental opportunity gap within our communities.
Since 2010, the Opening the Outdoors Program has worked to connect, protect and increase access to nature across the county, especially for San Diegans in underserved and park-poor communities.
For example, our partnership with San Diego Canyonlands helped create a new trail system in City Heights, one of the most dense, urban communities in San Diego County. As a result, its 65,000+ residents and visitors now have open space to explore just a few steps from their front doors.
And that’s just one of the 80 nonprofit organizations we’ve partnered with to help more than 30,000 additional youth and families experience the outdoors.
Our President & CEO Kathlyn Mead recently had the opportunity to sit down with Living Coast Discovery Center, San Diego River Park Foundation and San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy to talk about how their organizations and other nonprofits are working together to increase access to the outdoors for all San Diegans. During the conversation, these outdoor leaders spoke about the countless tangible and intangible benefits our natural spaces have within the region.
According to the American Institute for Research, nature-based education and experiences support the development, health and academic success of youth. Additionally, added green space in our communities helps promote civic engagement by creating safe, accessible gathering places for families and individuals.
Not to mention, there are climate-related benefits to a greener region. By preserving our natural environment, the Opening the Outdoors Program is helping to reduce air and water pollution, protect habitats for animals and plants, and ultimately create a more climate-resilient region for the future.
Through The San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors Program, we are honored to partner with impactful nonprofit organizations regionwide to help bridge the environmental access gap.
Together we are connecting, protecting and increasing access to nature across the county.