path for a sustainable future

Rural Communities & Open Space

Whether it’s a small pocket park, a quiet patch of forest, or a sweeping farm vista, open space and rural communities are vital to regional sustainability. Open space enhances quality of life, providing access to recreation activities, a sense of space, and a connection with nature. Open space lands mitigate pollution, provide flood storage capacity, and improve water quality by minimizing erosion and reducing runoff to local streams and water bodies. Open space also provides valuable habitat for wildlife and, when interconnected, serves as a corridor that allows for the movement of species.

Farming activity also plays a variety of important roles in the region. While meeting the most basic needs for food production, local farming provides more efficient access to fresh foods and products, which saves money and energy used for transportation. The local farm economy is a $137 million industry that provides jobs for local residents, and minimizes burdens on local government services. Farmland provides a venue for stabilization of open land and protection of natural resources.

Several issues and opportunities relating to Rural Communities & Open Space were identified over the course of the planning process. A sample key findings is provided below. To review the complete report, follow the link to the right.

Key Findings

  • Open space is one of the defining characteristics of Onondaga County. The region must find a balance between creating new residential and economic opportunities without destroying the natural features and places that make it such a desirable place to live, work and play.

  • DDespite a strong desire to retain their rural character, local governments often look to new development to mitigate rapidly rising municipal and school district costs. However, evidence shows that low-density suburban development can often be a drain on municipal budgets.

  • While the County is blessed with numerous parks and forests, there is a lack of connectivity between these resources. Improving linkages can provide contiguous travel corridors for people and wildlife. A regional or countywide open space plan is needed to develop strategies for connecting existing resources.