Roger Moellendorf, Carson City’s Parks and Recreation Department director, was mildly surprised but well short of startled by a federal ranking concerning nature’s benevolence here.
He was responding to news the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a “natural amenities index,” had rated Carson City — a consolidated city and county — as the 27th best county among 3,111 in most of the United States. Hawaii and Alaska were left out of the rankings due to a shortage of pertinent data. But Nevada’s capital community did well among counties in the continental 48 states, according to a Visit Carson City social media reaction.
A Washington Post writer ran across the rankings, first done in 1999 by the USDA, and offered an online article highlighting Ventura County in California as No. 1. It provided access to all the counties ranked. Most of the top counties were in California but by no means all of them in the top 50. Moellendorf, who has lived in various spots, expressed surprise about the index but not the result, saying Carson City’s ranking makes sense.
“Of all the places I’ve lived,” Moellendorf said, “this place has the best combination of climate and outdoor recreation.”
The USDA natural amenities index is intended to measure physical characteristics enhancing a location as a place to live, among them a mild climate with sunny winters and temperate summers, low humidity, topographic variation and access to a body of water. “Natural amenities pertain to the physical rather than the social or economic environment,” according to the USDA.