Wisconsin has 2 of the 50 cities with the most green space per capita

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January 10, 2022

Wisconsin has 2 of the 50 cities with the most green space per capita

Green space is beneficial anywhere, but especially in concrete jungles like those found in many U.S. cities. The World Health Organization reports that green areas are essential to both the ecosystem and the mental health of citizens; though the color is fading quickly in urban areas that are cutting down trees and rapidly building on open space. There are, however, some cities across America that are fighting hard to keep green space within their borders.

Using data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, analyzed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Stacker considered the 70 U.S. cities with the most green space per capita and then ranked the top 50 by the green space areas devoted to parks and urban regions.

Read on to see which cities in your state made the list, or see the national story here.

#15. Milwaukee

- Green space per capita: 26,650 sq. ft.
- Population: 1.6 million

Milwaukee is making strides to become even more green, with Mayor Tom Barrett announcing a plan in 2018 to create sustainable green spaces around the city. The 150-plus parks within the county limits of Milwaukee were recognized in 2009 with the national Gold Medal Award for "excellence in the field of park and recreation management" by the National Recreation and Park Association. Whitnall Park, the city's largest, is over 600 acres and hosts the Boerner Botanical Gardens and a golf course.

#13. Madison

- Green space per capita: 29,044 sq. ft.
- Population: 349,596

Wisconsin's capital city boasts 282 parks and had 11.6 parks per 10,000 people in 2016, more than any other city in the U.S. that year. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison are at the forefront of studying urban green spaces and their ecological effects, including flood remediation and carbon storage. The city of Madison got help from the EPA's Greening America's Capitals Program in 2016 to help beautify and create more green space around Brittingham Park.

Some cities have gotten creative in constructing green space within their boundaries. Houston, Nashville, and Des Moines, Iowa, are among the many cities putting large green spaces on public rooftops. Atlanta even has plans to cover some of its highways with parks.

The former commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Adrian Benepe promotes the 10-Minute Walk campaign, an initiative to have a park within a 10-minute walk in all U.S. cities by 2050. Now the senior vice president for the Trust for Public Land, Benepe points to how green space helps the ecosystem. "When I see a tree, I see the work of God because a tree is a remarkable machine," Benepe said. "It does extraordinary things in exchange for very little."

What's more, the health benefits of parks and green spaces in cities are numerous, according to The National Recreation and Park Association. Large parks promote active living, which can reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease, while research shows even small parks can reduce stress and improve creativity and mental health.

To learn more about which cities made the top of the list, keep reading below.

Cities with the most green space per capita

#1. Minneapolis, MN: 105,843 sq. ft. per capita
#2. Kansas City, MO: 93,349 sq. ft. per capita
#3. Cincinnati, OH: 67,723 sq. ft. per capita
#4. Washington, DC: 63,138 sq. ft. per capita
#5. Nashville, TN: 57,699 sq. ft. per capita

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