To help the City of Iowa City continue to foster the benefits of its natural areas, students from the Department of Geographical and Sustainability Sciences conducted two research projects on the ecological services provided by the parks and open spaces in the city. The first project used hedonic pricing to research how the valuation of different kinds of open spaces contribute to the values of detached single-family homes. The second project researched how the delivery of ecosystem services would be impacted by different types of ecological management approaches, such as promoting more forest or grassland cover.
The City of Iowa City manages over 1,600 acres of parkland and open space, which include 42 developed parks, 75 community garden plots, over six miles of nature trails, and many other natural and recreational amenities. These amenities offer several different benefits to residents and visitors of the city. In a survey conducted by Iowa City Parks and Recreation as part of their master planning process, city staff found that the three benefits park users value most highly are: 1) the opportunities the parks afford for improving physical health and fitness, 2) the preservation of open space and the environment achieved by the parks, and 3) the parks’ contributions to making Iowa City a more desirable place to live.