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A variety of means were used to identify the City's recreation needs and develop a planned program of recreation facility improvements for the future. These included: consideration of the growth and demographic trends discussed in the previous section, review of resident participation data in area recreation programs, review of the results of a City of Ferrysburg community survey conducted in 1996 & 2001, review of past City Recreation Plans, review of Recreation Plans of adjacent communities and on-site inspection of existing recreation facilities. State and federal recreation facility guidelines were also considered.

Comparison of the City's facilities with the accepted population-based recreation planning standards is one means of assessing facility needs in the City. Such an analysis is contained in Table 10. This analysis indicates that the City is providing a well-rounded balance of recreation facilities for its residents, and does not have serious facility deficiencies. Facilities that are not located within City limits, such as a golf course or public boat launch, are available in reasonable proximity elsewhere in the Tri-Cities area. A minor deficiency in hiking trails is the only facility need identified by use of these population-based standards.

No standards exist to determine how much open space a community needs, although community desire can certainly be assessed. Rather, information is available on how to determine the conservation value of different areas. The justifications for preserving biodiversity and natural areas in which high levels of biodiversity occur include benefits to humans. These benefits include the increased quality of life many people feel living near natural environments, the recreational and economic value of hunting and wildlife viewing in natural areas, and the health benefits from the discovery of new pharmaceuticals derived from plants.

Most people are aware of the attributes of a site that make it seem worthy of protection. These attributes may include, among others, the naturalness or relative absence of human alteration; the presence of rare plant and animal species; the presence of rare or rapidly disappearing plant communities; and the occurrence of attractive landforms (for example, a valley), waterfalls, or other physical features of the site. A site may also be considered for conservation over another because of its proximity to a city or its easy access. Some landscape-level factors that should be considered, in addition to current and future use of the surrounding land, include the size of the area to be protected, the connection of the area to other natural areas by means of corridors, the role the area will play in protecting the water quality of the larger region, and the ability to maintain or mimic natural disturbances such as fires or floods.
The City of Ferrysburg conducts a periodic written survey of citizen satisfaction with municipal services and facilities. The most recent survey, conducted in 2001, provides information that is useful in assessing recreation facility needs. Over 1,486 copies of the 2001 survey form were distributed to City residents. 360 completed surveys were returned, a return rate of 24%. Following are highlights of the 2001 survey findings related to park and recreation facilities:

* 79% of the respondents indicted a need to expand/improve both visual and physical waterfront accessibility. A contrast 62% of the respondents did not believe the City should acquire or develop land to offer a public boat launch
* 72% of the respondents indicted a need to expand/balance recreational opportunities for the east side of the City.
* 58% of respondents favored the construction of additional bike/pedestrian paths in the City.
* 90% of respondents indicated that the facilities at the City's parks are meeting their needs.
* 93% stated that the recreation activities available are meeting their needs.
* Park facility improvement needs cited most frequently included improving Fire Barn Park facilities and more pathways.