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50 Shades of Green

In this November’s ballot, a proposal to tax property owners as a means to better community parks, could pass, depending on voters in Los Angeles County.

Measure A proposes that voters pay higher property taxes to pay for park projects. If it passes, supporters say Measure A should bring in $94.5 million a year.

According to the Los Angeles Times, there is a large disparity in park access. Countywide, there was an average of 3.3 acres of parkland per 1,000 residents. Communities in central and South Los Angeles, southeast county areas and parts of the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys had the most park-poor areas.

“Measure A addresses quite a few things,” said Program Associate at the Trust for Public Land, Yadira Cerrato. “It would be providing upgrades for existing parks. It will also provide funding for future parks, help protect water sources like rivers and creeks, as well as keeping our beaches safe, clean and protecting outdoor open spaces.”

University of Edinburgh researchers suggest it is healthy to spend time outdoors. Their 2013 study found that walking in nature and spending time under leafy shade trees actually causes electrochemical changes in the brain, that can lead to a highly beneficial state of effortless attention, lower frustration and higher meditative states.

“Nature is therapeutic because it builds empathy and it improves our health,” Eco-therapist Suzannah Ferron said. “It lowers every stress marker we have: it lowers our cortisol, our blood pressure and our heart rate. It increases our sense of connection, our sense of fascination, and it builds our bio-philia…[an] innate sense of belonging to each other, to nature, to all of life.”

Many CSU campuses have Outdoor Adventures Programs, allowing students to get in touch with nature. This month a San Jose State student, who was a leader of the program, drowned while on a trip to Sequoia National Park.

“Tonight we have our trip leader meetings, so we are talking about what happened, and I have already sat down with our risk manager, HR, and my director, talking about what we can do,” said CSUN Outdoor Adventure program founder Tim Szczepanski. “We are looking at training our students at being lifeguards, wilderness first responders, and first aid and CPR-certified.”

Resources like the Outdoor Adventure program can help students and communities spend more time outdoors, but it is up to Angelinos to vote, on this upcoming November’s ballot, to decide if local and national parks will enrich the lives of future generations.

Moderator: Celene Zavala

Anchor: Delmy Moran

Producer: Brittni Perez

Reporters: Delmy Moran, Brittni Perez, Kiesha Phillips, Daniel Saad and Jordan Williams

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