Development and Natural Resource Director for the Energy Corridor District Robert Rayburn recently served as a panelist in the “Counting on Quality of Place: Air Quality, Parks & Trails, and Trees” symposium hosted by Center for Houston’s Future at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The symposium as a whole addressed the Quality of Place report that Center for Houston’s Future conducted while Rayburn’s panel discussed the importance of parks and trails for quality of life and as stimulants for economic growth.
According to the report, Houston has much room for improvement when it comes to raising the quality of life for area citizens. For example, the number of parks serves as a measure of how healthy Houstonians can be when given the opportunity for exercise. Unfortunately, as the Houston region has expanded, green space shrank. The national standard is that residents should live within one quarter mile of a park. While an exemplary 91 percent of The Woodlands meets this standard, only 30 percent of Harris County does. Another indicator for the need of quality of life improvement is the decline of underdeveloped tree covered land. Houston lost nearly 700 square miles of tree coverage since the year 2000, adversely affecting the area’s air quality.
“While the Energy Corridor boasts five parks and over 50 miles of recreational trails, our team is always seeking to improve the area through increasing green spaces,” said Rayburn. He further explains that the West Houston Trails Master Plan project between the Energy Corridor District and the National Park Service that will be released this summer will show proposed trails that will serve as linear parks/ trails and will also connect the existing parks of the area.