The Need for Open Lands
Nature Bulletin No. 742 February 8, 1964
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
Seymour .Simon, President
Roberts Mann, Conservation Editor
THE NEED FOR OPEN LANDS
There is an old saying: The proof of the pudding is the eating . In other
words, if it's good, people enjoy it and beg for more. The proof of the
need for open lands -- publicly owned areas for recreational uses and
open spaces undisturbed -- is the tremendous and ever-increasing use of
those we have.
We need more now. Year after year we will need more and more. It is
imperative that areas desirable for future use be acquired now or as
soon as possible, regardless of cost and even though they may stand idle
' -- vacant and undeveloped -- until more funds become available.
Otherwise they may be gone, or the asking price may be a hundred
times greater. Open spaces such as farm lands and prairies may have
been occupied by residential, commercial or industrial developments.
Woodlands may have been cut, stream channels dredged and wetlands
drained, destroying all but a memory of their beauty and recreational
values. There are compelling reasons for our need of open lands and
why we should waste no time in providing more. Those reasons have
been confirmed and emphasized by exhaustive studies and statistical
analyses nationwide in scope.
The population of these United States is increasing rapidly. Most of the
increase is taking place in metropolitan areas, Adequate open lands
properly located are essential for the well-being of the people in those
areas. We are becoming more mobile: facilitated in going places by
means of more and better automobiles, expressways, interstate
highways, and aircraft. People have more and more leisure time. They
have more money to spend. Most compelling, because -) of those
changes, is the fact that people are becoming more outdoor-minded.
The complexion of America is changing before our eyes. By the year
2000, only 36 years from now -- and how old will you be then? -- it is
predicted that the population of the United States will be twice what it
was in 1960. Three-fourths of that population will be clustered in
metropolitan regions around about 200 central cities. The demand for
recreational areas and facilities will have tripled.
Those people will need, convenient to them, woodlands, waters, and
open spaces where there is elbow room, freedom from man-made and
manhandled environment, and a feeling of closeness to the soil.
Inevitably, any metropolitan area becomes crowded, noisy, bustling and
artificial. Its citizens live at a fast tempo and under high nervous
City and village parks to some extent, but especially county or
metropolitan parks and forest preserves, provide the antidote for that.
They furnish places, close by, for simple forms of recreation --
picnicking, nature walks, fishing, hiking, skating, bicycling, etc. They
provide the restful inspiration that nature gives to most of us, and the
mental tonic of peaceful hours.
Sixty years ago, in Chicago, when the proposal to establish a system of
outer parks, or of forest preserves, was being debated, Daniel Burnham
said: "Natural scenery furnishes the contrasting element to the
artificiality of the city. All of us should often run away from the works
of men's hands and back into the wilds, where mind and body are
restored to a normal condition, and we are enabled to take up the
burden of life in our crowded streets and endless stretches of buildings
with renewed vigor and hopefulness.
State parks, within a day's drive or less, are equally important. Among
the 46 states that have them, Illinois is at the bottom of the list. We
should do something about that.
"Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, until
there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the
earth." (Isaiah V-8)
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Update: June 2012