Open Space Plan For Nashville
City of Nashville. Photo by Kaldari/Wikimedia Commons
Download The Plan
(This is a 7.2 MB PDF file)
Like many American cities, fast-growing Nashville needs green strategy. Obesity-related conditions cost area residents an estimated $255 million annually. There are too few places for people to easily access the outdoors, with only about 3% of Davidson County in metro parkland today, even as the area population grew by 10 percent over the last decade. And a devastating 2010 flood—killing 10 and costing roughly $2 billion—has underscored the need to better protect floodplains and buffer waterways that feed the mighty Cumberland River.
Based on our national expertise in green infrastructure planning, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the Land Trust for Tennessee chose us to lead a team to develop an open space plan for Davidson County. Our goal was to develop the most progressive open space protection strategy in the Southeast. The result is Nashville: Naturally, the first conservation plan that maps every inch of protected open space in Davidson County—and charts a clear vision for how to protect and connect this green infrastructure.
The “Nashville: Naturally” Plan
To create the plan, we led a team that included ACP Visioning+Planning, Hawkins Partners, Inc. and Clarion Associates. Together, we inventoried and evaluated the region’s natural areas, incorporating public input and technical analysis to develop an implementable vision. The new open space plan helps decision makers by providing a clear vision to reach shared goals, including:
- Improving the Cumberland River system, source of the county’s drinking water;
- Building up the sustainable local food supply through urban and rural farming;
- Improving public health by making it easier for people to bike, walk and play;
- Protecting scenic and historic places from disappearing to development.
The plan makes 27 recommendations that range from the simple (put signs on trails so people know they exist) to the ambitious (double the tree canopy downtown over 10 years). It calls for connecting open space in the four corners of Davidson County through a network of protected lands at key points along the Cumberland River, including a greener downtown.
“With so much natural beauty, a vibrant tourism economy and a creative spirit, Nashville has what it takes to maximize its green infrastructure,” says Will Allen, director of strategic conservation at The Conservation Fund. “Like so many of our urban areas, the region must now get strategic about what land to protect, what to develop and how to encourage the community to rediscover its beautiful backyard”.