AREF George Dusenbury with The Trust for Public Land

    Co-hosts Carol Morgan and Todd Schnick welcome George Dusenbury, the State Director of Georgia and Alabama for The Trust for Public Land, on today’s episode of Around Atlanta Radio. Dusenbury discusses past and upcoming projects of The Trust for Public Land.

    Before working for The Trust for Public Land, Dusenbury graduated from Emery Law School, worked for Congressman John Lewis for 10 years and served as the Executive Director of local nonprofit Park Pride for six years. He was recently elected to the Decatur City Commission and lives in Decatur with his beloved wife and two children.

    The Trust for Public Land is a national organization founded 50 years ago in San Francisco. The mission of the organization is to preserve land and build parks for the public to enjoy. The organization has 30 offices around the country, has put nearly 5,000 parks into public ownership, preserved 3.7 million acres of land, created 500 parks and helped put over 9 million people within walking distance of a park.

    The Trust for Public Land has many exciting campaigns and projects in the works.

    10-minute walk campaign

    The goal of this campaign is to get mayors and communities to endorse the idea that every person should live within a 10-minute walk from a park.

    “Fundamentally we believe that everybody should live within a 10-minute walk of a park,” Dusenbury said. “If you look at how parks improve public health, it’s never been more true than now with COVID-19, it relaxes you, it lowers your blood pressure, it increases your mental capacity and people close to parks are also more apt to exercise. Parks also strengthen communities.”

    The Trust for Public Land has maps on its website where people can find the parks that are closest to them and it is actively working toward building more parks with its 10-minute walk campaign.

    School Yard Program

    The Trust for Public Land is working with Atlanta schools, Park Pride and Urban Land Institute to engage school kids and communities to envision what their schoolyards can be. The organization will open two schoolyards this year and hope they will serve as community gathering spaces.

    Cook Park

    Located on Atlanta’s west side, this 16-acre piece of land used to have 160 families living near it. In 2002, a flood displaced the families and the land sat vacant. The Trust for Public Land started a project in 2015 to open Cook Park on the land, which will eliminate the threat of flooding and serve as a recreational place for the community.

    “It’s been a challenging project with flooding and there were some contaminated soil issues, so the city largely took the lead in cleaning that up,” Dusenbury said. “But it’s going to be a great amenity for the community and for the city.”

    Cook Park Rendering with The Trust for Public Land

    Climate-Smart Cities Program

    This program collects data on demographics, topography and land use to figure out where communities should be making investments in parks to adapt to climate change and flooding. The program helped locate Cook Park to make sure the park has the most impact in the shortest time frame.

    Chattahoochee River Project

    The Trust for Public Land just launched an effort to create a camp and paddle trail in the Chattahoochee National Recreation Area. Visitors will be able to spend four days and four nights paddling and camping their way through metro Atlanta.

    Chattahoochee Blueway near Columbus, Georgia.

    Ways to show support

    Those seeking to support the endeavors of The Trust for Public Land can support the Great American Outdoors Act, which will fund land and water conservation for national parks, forests and state parks as well as provide $9.5 billion to reduce longstanding maintenance backlogs in public lands. People can contact their member of Congress and urge them to support it.

    At the state level, one can visit the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ website to learn more about and support its updated outdoor recreation plan.

    Lastly, at the local level, The Trust for Public Land encourages people to let their mayor and council members know how important parks are to them and encourage them to continue making those investments.

    For more information on The Trust for Public Land, visit www.tpl.org and connect with them on Facebook and Instagram. You can also contact George Dusenbury at 404-604-7803 or at George.Dusenbury@tpl.org.

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