Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you come in contact with nature, even in the City of Long Beach? Cities are embedded in the natural environment and remember, Long Beach was once a vast area of natural landscape and habitat outlined on two sides by the LA and San Gabriel rivers and next to the ocean before the City developed!
Today in Long Beach there are many aspects of urban nature in the form of parks, trees, open space, community gardens , wetlands, local wildlife, rivers and ocean. These natural features in our city provide environmental, economic and social benefits that Long Beach residents, businesses and visitors enjoy year round. Green space and other natural elements in our community can improve our air quality and public health, provide habitat for local wildlife, lower crime and violence by creating inviting outdoor places, and can increase property values and lower building energy use by providing shade.
The City's urban forest and tree canopy is a major asset in our community. Trees improve air quality and public health in our city by storing carbon dioxide, provide habitat for local wildlife, and reduce building energy use by providing shade. Long Beach has been designated a Tree City USA in recognition for the more than 330,000 trees in city's parks and urban forest.
Long Beach has 144 parks with 25 community centers, two major tennis centers, one of the busiest municipal golf systems in the country with five courses, the largest municipally operated marina system in the nation and 6 miles of beaches. More than 2,750 acres within the City's 50 square miles are developed for recreation. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine has received the "Best in the Nation" designation celebrating the receipt of the Gold Medal Award from the National Parks and Recreation Society.
Being able to connect to nature in our urban environment is important to our physical and mental health as well. Having natural areas available in Long Beach means that our children have outdoor places to play and keep active and our residents have places to recreate, exercise and relax, all helping to prevent obesity and providing a sense of calm and piece of mind.
Moving forward, it will be important to create opportunities to connect with the outdoors to serve the needs of Long Beach's growing population because urban nature connects people with Long Beach's natural environment!