When people think of Colorado, open spaces definitely come to mind. But are the things that come to mind actually what “open spaces” really mean?
Open spaces, what most people understand them to be, aren’t always large areas of nature. In fact, state and national parks aren’t considered “open spaces.” In land use planning vernacular, open space means things like parks, smaller “green spaces” like small neighborhood gardens in cities or community playing fields. Normally they are open to the public, but can in some urban settings be privately owned.
Some definitions of open space describe it as “a natural and cultural resource, synonymous with neither ‘unused land’ nor ‘park and recreation areas” or “Open space is land and/or water area with its surface open to the sky, consciously acquired or publicly regulated to serve conservation and urban shaping function in addition to providing recreational opportunities.” Generally it’s green space for public use within a municipality. It is used to benefit the community and provide areas for that community with recreation, ecology and aesthetic value.
Recreational is obvious. Open playing fields provide an area where the community can play games or organized sports, walking or exercise. Ecological or conservation use of open space gives people places to promote biodiversity and providing a home for natural species in environments in a city environment, or to provide a place for growing food for themselves or for homeless shelters and food banks. Of course, the aesthetic value of open spaces is also obvious. Being able to have some calming green areas to relax and take in nature and color beyond the city streets.
Colorado has a lot of open spaces within their bigger cities and smaller communities. From city parks to community fields and golf courses, green is in.