We need to keep our green spaces sacred.

Parks, Playgrounds and the trails that get us there safely make Missoula special. They give kids a place to play, families a place to gather and are a place for all of us to escape into the real world.

Green urban areas facilitate physical activity and relaxation, and form a refuge from noise. Trees produce oxygen, and help filter out harmful air pollution, including airborne particulate matter. Water spots, from lakes to rivers and fountains, moderate temperatures.

World Health Organization on Urban green spaces

When my son was little, he grew up playing in the splash park at Lowell School. As he got older and was learning to ride his bike, we would ride our bikes to LaFray park. Now that he’s a teenager, riding his bike to the park is a safe way for him to find some independence. Parks and trails offer free recreational opportunities for people of all ages and are healthy alternatives to screen time.

Our parks are the reason our home is called the Garden City.

Green spaces provide vital health services as well as environmental services; they are equigenic, reducing socioeconomic health inequalities, facilitating activity and promoting better mental health and well-being.

The importance of greenspace for mental health

Invest Health

While serving on the River Road Leadership Team, I had the opportunity to participate in the Missoula Invest Health Project. This survey covered residents in the River Road, Franklin to the Fort and Northside/Westside Neighborhoods and its goal was to assess the physical and mental health of the neighborhoods. This survey is specifically important to Ward Six because the River Road and Franklin to the Fort neighborhoods make up a large portion of our ward.

We know that access to parks and trails directly impact the health of the neighborhood and in response to the question “What 3 features do you think best support physical activity and mental health in your neighborhood” “Parks and Playgrounds” was ranked #1, and tied with access to groceries and shopping.

As Missoula grows, and as infill becomes the norm, it’s important to keep these places safe. It’s important to ensure that our kids have a place to play, and that the Garden City remains lush and green.

The Cost

$50.27 of my home’s yearly property taxes go to parks in Missoula, that’s $4.19 a month. Compare that to the $8.99 each month for Netflix or the $14.99 for my family to have Spotify. I feel like the $4.19 I spend on parks each month has a great return on investment.

I’m glad to live in a place that supports green space, and the Missoula community has repeatedly supported our open spaces at the polls:

  • 2018 – Open Space General Obligation Bond: 63% to 37%
  • 2018 – Open Space Stewardship Mill Levy: 62% to 38%
  • 2014 – Fort Missoula Parks & Trails Bond: 54% to 46%