When a community protects its natural resources, it protects the reason outdoor tourists come to the community. Tourism is an important industry to Orange County. Parks, scenic views, historic sites and river recreation attract millions of out-of-town and state visitors who spend large amounts of money for services and products provided by local area businesses. The effects of trickling down provide jobs and income for support service providers. Agriculture in the County is also still an important economic industry that provides product, jobs and income to the economy.
The social value of open space lies in the opportunities it provides for social interaction, social mixing and social inclusion. It can help facilitate the development of community ties and neighborhood interaction. In addition, it is important in promoting health and well-being; providing space for exercise and play, education, art and cultural activities as well as food growing; and promoting community cohesion and pride in the placemaking value of spaces.
Public open space is especially important for young children to enjoy the natural world and have a place to make friends. Local parks and hiking trails provide healthy and affordable outings where lasting memories are being made for residents and their families. These positive childhood adventures can inspire future environmental stewards.
“Trails and open spaces are important resources that enhance communities, foster healthy lifestyles, protect natural areas, and support local tourism and economic development. The Highlands West Trail Connectivity Plan highlights a range of opportunities to permanently protect and enhance the landscape, working toward the creation of a connected, regional trail network that will provide recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, protect critical wildlife habitat, and safeguard local watersheds.”