Discussing Investing in the Outdoors: How Parks Promote Public Health at MACoCon

Parks play an essential role in how communities operate, and yet this role often goes unnoticed. Over the past year, public parks have stepped up to fill in the gap of many essential services that became difficult to provide. This was the subject of a recent session at the MACo Summer Conference moderated by Delegate Maggie McIntosh.

Where did Maryland residents go to safely escape from hibernation during the pandemic? Public parks and open spaces! Local government and conservation leaders reflected on the challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic, the positive use trends, and the evolution of the role of parks and recreation. Topics discussed included: traditional and new funding for land conservation, parks, and recreational infrastructure, including action taken at the 2021 Maryland General Assembly to restore and expand investment in Program Open Space and its companion conservation programs.

The panel for this session was composed of Roslyn Johnson, Baltimore County Rec & Parks; Elvis Cordova, Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy; and Charlotte Davis, Executive Director of Rural Maryland Council. The panel focused on how parks, in conjunction with new technologies, can be used for more than just green spaces and recreation. When schools closed during the pandemic, parks and recreation departments stepped in to help provide spaces for learning and meals. Looking forward, parks will continue to play a critical role in our community as technology and innovation continues to improve.

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