September 2018 - Parks & Recreation - 54

CONSERVATION

Sunrise over the James River adjacent
to Robious Landing Park, Chesterfield
County, Virginia.

future generations will have opportunities for outdoor adventure and
wilderness experiences. This is possible only through the complete integration of land conservation into
the planning function of local governments. Assessments of undeveloped properties, such as those conducted by Battista, provide valuable
information to the planning and
construction divisions within agencies. Analysis of in-the-field findings helps balance providing public
access to unique ecosystems with
preserving the integrity of those important natural areas.
Conservation is a fundamental
pillar of most park and recreation
agencies, but other sectors of government often focus on the more
tangible elements of economic development and service provision.
Public outreach and education
should be part of any conservation
52

Parks & Recreation

plan. Elected officials must know
that their constituents are passionate about conserving open space.
Enlisting the support of state and
federal agencies, recognizing elected officials' support of conservation and publicizing the public's
efforts to better the environment all
play a role in maintaining support
for conservation within communities.
Opportunities for land conservation often result from donations of
property or available grant funding. While these are both valuable
mechanisms for increasing the
amount of green space within an
area, departments can be proactive in their conservation efforts.
Collaborating with citizens, birding clubs and other organizations
makes agencies aware of important natural resources or unique
habitats on private property. That
information can be cataloged to
develop an acquisition priorities
list to guide future land purchases by local government. Identification of those ecological gems

| S E P T E M B E R 2 0 1 8 | W W W. PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N . O R G

within a region allows agencies
to campaign for their purchase,
should they become available.
Conservation is an established
tenant within the park and recreation field. Working to fully integrate those values into the broader governmental framework will
require citizen support, engaged
community leaders and impassioned advocacy by agency staff.
Elevating wild space preservation
to an equal footing with police and
fire protection is possible, but agencies must actively promote conservation efforts within their communities. Hopefully, elected officials
will realize the value of letting their
citizens " go wild. "
Detailed references for this article are available at www.parksand
recreation.org/2018/September/
conservation-lands-as-criticalpublic-infrastructure.
Robert Smet is the Assistant Director for
Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation
(smetr@chesterfield.gov).



September 2018 - Parks & Recreation

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