Trail Conference Announces Support for “Open Spaces for All” Plan

October 07, 2022
Ashley Nester
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference


Trail Conference Announces Support for “Open Spaces for All” Plan
Diverse group of hikers at a scenic viewpoint. Text reads: "Open Spaces for All. A vision for an Inclusive, Accessible and Equitable Open Space System in New York State."


Creating Open Spaces for All

Statewide plan outlines strategies to better connect people and protected land.

The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has announced their support of Open Spaces for All, a report issued by the Open Space Institute (OSI), in partnership with the New York Outdoor Recreation Coalition (NYORC). The Open Spaces for All report presents a comprehensive set of state-level recommendations designed to improve equity and access to parks and other open spaces for visitors and residents of New York State. The full report can be viewed at

Rooted in a multiyear research and community engagement process, Open Spaces for All identifies structural and societal barriers that hinder access and enjoyment of public parks, green spaces, and other outdoor amenities for people of color, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and other underrepresented or marginalized groups.

The plan proposes guidance for future policies, programs, initiatives, and creative partnerships to engage and support a growing and increasingly diverse constituency of visitors.

Open Spaces for All guidance includes:
· Engaging and empowering communities and partners.
· Prioritizing equity at the forefront of future park and open space investments.
· Building support and capacity for implementation of recommendations and improvements.
· Honoring Indigenous people and their connections to the land.

The plan is intended to serve the state’s leaders, recreation providers and land managers as well as the greater outdoor recreation industry, nonprofit organizations, community groups and open space partners.

“The New York-New Jersey Trail Conference believes that the joys of nature belong to everyone. All people — regardless of age, ability, or location — should be able to experience the rewards of connecting with nature. It has been an honor to be a part of the Open Spaces for All team that pioneered the roadmap and vision for New York State to become a leader in equitable access and inclusivity for public outdoor recreation,” said Joshua Howard, Executive Director of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference and a member of the steering committee for Open Spaces for All. “This report is an important first step to ensure that barriers to enjoying the outdoors are identified and eliminated. We look forward to continuing working with the state and our partners to implement this groundbreaking plan.”

Open Spaces for All is the first state-level plan in the nation solely dedicated to addressing issues of equitable access to the outdoors,” said Kim Elliman President and CEO, OSI. “This report delivers a blueprint for strategic investment in diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice as critical components for New York’s magnificent open spaces. Open Spaces for All will catalyze meaningful change toward future policies, programs, and initiatives grounded in equity, representation, and inclusion.”

The Open Spaces for All report was created by OSI in partnership with NYORC, with input from more than 200 individuals representing diverse social and economic identities, community groups, nonprofit organizations, businesses, existing users, thought leaders, non-traditional stakeholders, and government entities from across the state. The plan was guided by a steering committee composed of members from OSI, NYORC, Inclusive Woods and Us, New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, Center for Diversity at SUNY Potsdam, REI, and Get Out and Trek. Open Spaces for All was made possible with generous support from the Laurance S. Rockefeller Fund, Overhills Foundation, Samuel Freeman Charitable Foundation, and an individual contributor. Research support and analysis was provided by Potrero Group.