What exactly is a park? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary provides the following three definitions:
- a piece of public land in or near a city that is kept free of houses and other buildings and can be used for pleasure and exercise
- a large area of public land kept in its natural state to protect plants and animals
- sports : a field or stadium where a sport (especially baseball) is played
Focusing on the first two definitions, the only inaccuracy that we detect is the word “public” preceding the word “land.” It is certainly true that many parks are public, but there are private parks of both types.
There is a instance, near our home, where a private park is part of a mixed-use residential/commercial development. This park was built, primarily, for the use of the development’s residents and it’s businesses’ customers. With a field and playground, it looks much like nearby city parks, though better kept.
In other instances, there are privately held nature preserves which require a membership to enter and use. At some by our home, memberships are available to the general public at a daily or annual rate . With their many miles of nature trails, these parks are great for hiking, though camping is not allowed – in one of them, our family has witnessed groups training for backpacking trips by carrying bags appearing to have enough gear stuffed inside to support a week of car camping. This membership model does seem to lighten the pressure on wildlife (both plant and animal) when compared to adjacent public parks. Fewer users makes for a more enjoyable experience for members.
On the urban fringes in our area, there are large “multi-use” parks which combine these two types of parks. These typically incorporate a man-made lake, wildlife preservation areas, pedestrian/bicycle hard surface trails, unpaved nature trails, athletic fields, playgrounds, and other various amenities. Along with large nature preserves (private or public), these parks are good for training for backpacking or strenuous day hikes. Why train for day hikes? So you can get out further than the average bear and see things most people don’t – more on this in the future.
Whether it be a few moments at the local city park or in the deepest wilderness, we hope you’ll find some time to get some fresh air, soon and throughout your life.