The Great Urban Greenspace

010713-jeffries-boys-1For the price of a tiny lot in the center of a large city, you could buy a whole farm in the country. That’s the way it is in the city: There is less space for more people, and the value of every square foot goes up.

The value of wild land goes up in the city, too. In the country it takes a pristine stream or big forest to rate as special. In an urban environment, a narrow strip of trees along a muddy ditch can form a greenspace worth protecting.

Undeveloped corridors in cities, called greenways, provide many benefits. Their trees clean polluted air, buffer traffic noise and provide welcome shade to local residents. Greenways with natural vegetation provide habitat for urban wildlife that integrates nature into urban lives. Greenways that contain trails offer hiking, biking, birdwatching and other recreation. And when they cradle urban creeks and rivers, greenways help filter runoff and protect water quality not only for city dwellers, but for everyone who lives downstream.

Measured in terms of acres, urban greenspaces rarely add up to much land. But in terms of their value to society, they are priceless.

Greenway Spotlight: St. Louis

Great Rivers Greenway was created by a vote of the people to connect St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. Its system of greenways connects the region so people can be active, get around town and enjoy being outside. Here are a few greenways in its system worth noting:

  • Centennial Greenway: This section of the Centennial Greenway is urban; linking together the communities of Clayton, University City, Ladue and Olivette.
  • Mississippi Greenway: The greenway is mostly flat and entirely sunny. It offers views of the working riverfront and Mississippi River that even most native St. Louisans have never seen before.
  • Boschert Greenway: Located in St. Charles County, it links the Missouri River and the Katy Trail, goes through Historic Downtown St. Charles, through Fox Hill Park and up to New Town.
  • Western Greenway: The Western Greenway is in west St. Louis County and meanders between the Meramec River on the south and Missouri River on the north. It stretches across rolling hills, rocky limestone bluffs and includes thousands of acres of public open lands.

Discover more about each of the greenways of Great Rivers Greenway by visiting the organiation’s website.

Take a look at Busch Greenway, part of Great Rivers Greenway, in the video below, courtesy of Great Rivers Greenway.