May 2017 Print


Last chance to register for the 2017 NACPRO Summer Meeting

This year NACPRO will be meeting in conjunction with the Special Park District Forum, hosted by Stark Parks in Canton, Ohio from June 6 - 8. The Forum program will substitute for the NACPRO county park tour and classroom educational session. The NACPRO awards ceremony and board meeting is scheduled for June 8.

The Special Park District Forum is an annual gathering of representatives from park, recreation and natural area special districts throughout North America. Each year, participants tour the host agency’s facilities, discuss hot topics, and share the successes and challenges of managing regional park systems.

Registration is required if you plan to attend the NACPRO award ceremony. Options for full or one-day Forum registration, or an awards ceremony only registration are available

Registration closes on May 31.

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How to Engage Visitors with Multi-Sensory Exhibits
Courtesy of Taylor Studios

By Leah Rainey

There is of course no substitute for first-hand experiences of nature. After all, parks and preserves exist to get people out of doors!

However, your indoor space provides ample opportunity for meaningful interpretation that connects the tangible assets of your site –this species of bird, that type of tree—to memorable and powerful “universal concepts” such as the wondrous complexity of nature, the necessity of stewardship, and the value of lifelong curiosity and exploration.

Forge powerful emotional and intellectual connections with your visitors by bringing the sights and sounds, the scents and textures of the great outdoors IN with multi-sensory exhibits.

Beyond tapping into universal concepts, adding multi-sensory components to exhibits also supports Universal Design, which is defined as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

According to the Center for Universal Design, “Principle Four: Perceptible Information” calls for design that “communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user’s sensory abilities.”

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Got an issue or best practice you want to share? Send us the details and we will publish it in the next NACPRO News.


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2017 Finalists Announced for the National Gold Medal Awards in Parks and Recreation
Courtesy of NRPA

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA), is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2017 National Gold Medal Awards for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. Musco Lighting, LLC has been a proud sponsor of the Gold Medal Awards program for more than 10 years.

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of citizens, staff and elected officials. Four finalists in each class are chosen to compete for grand honors each year.

Congratulations to four of NACPRO's member districts on being selected as 2017 Gold Medal finalists:

- BREC — Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Johnson County Park and Recreation District — Shawnee Mission, Kansas
- Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department — Lake Worth, Florida
- Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District — Beaverton, Oregon

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2017 NACo Achievement Award Winners Announced
Courtesy of NACo

By Lindsey Maggard

The National Association of Counties (NACo) is pleased to announce the winners for the 2017 Achievement Awards. NACo recognized 605 entries from 108 counties in 29 states. All winners are available in our searchable awards database, where winning programs are searchable by year, category and state dating back to 2007.

Congratulations to NACPRO member agency Oakland County Parks and Recreation (Michigan) for being chosen Best in the Parks and Recreation Category for their OUCARES Day Camp and Staff Training. In 2016, NACPRO recognized this program with a Removing Barriers Initiative award.

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Middletown won’t spend more money on River Center project
Courtesy of the Journal News

By Ed Richter

OHIO - Middletown officials are not interested in providing additional financial support for the proposed River Center hub on the edge of downtown overlooking the Great Miami River.

City Manager Doug Adkins told council that Jonathan Granville, executive director of the MetroParks of Butler County, had exchanged several emails with the city about finding a way to plug a funding gap to build the proposed facility with the amenities they envisioned.

Councilman Dan Picard was adamant in his opposition to spending any city funds on the proposed project.

Following the meeting, Picard said MetroParks has the money. “I’m not interested in spending city money for the project. “It’s their problem, not ours,” Picard said.

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NACo Annual Conference - Keynote Speakers Announced

Date: July 21-24, 2017
Location: Franklin County (Columbus), OH

PIPER KERMAN - "Orange is the New Black"
The basis for the award-winning series, Kerman's best-selling memoir, Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison, chronicles her 13 months in the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut. The book raises provocative questions about the state of justice in America, and how incarceration affects individuals and communities. Since her release, she has worked to promote criminal justice reform.

ED VIESTURS - Record-breaking mountain climber
The only American mountaineer to have climbed the world's 14 highest peaks without supplemental oxygen, Viesturs was National Geographic's Adventurer of the Year in 2005. He was featured in the in the documentary film, Everest, and has participated in many high-altitude rescues. His autobiography, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World's 14 Highest Peaks, documents his 16-year journey and his strategies to manage risk in extreme environments.

Kerman and Viesturs will sign copies of their books following their remarks.

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Step Up As a Park Champion

With federal programs and funding under threat, NRPA is looking to NACPRO agencies to showcase how important your parks and programs are to your communities. If you have a program kick-off, park groundbreaking/dedication, or special event coming up, make it a Park Champion event by inviting your members of Congress!

It’s easy to get started – first sign the Park Champion pledge, then use NRPA’s Park Champion Advocacy Toolkit, our step-by-step guide to hosting a Congressional site visit. The Toolkit includes a “Find Your Elected Officials” zip code search tool, a customizable draft invitation and media alert, fact sheets, and contact information for every Congressional office. You can make a big difference for the future of key programs like LWCF, CDBG, TIGER, and summer meals by highlighting your parks and programs at a Park Champion event.

For questions or help planning your Park Champion event, reach out to NRPA’s Advocacy and Outreach Manager, Jayni Rasmussen, at or 440-522-9162.

*** Note: By hosting a Park Champion event, you’ll not only be advocating for the future of parks and rec, you’ll also be eligible for prizes and recognition at NRPA’s Annual Conference! Contact Jayni to learn more. ***

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$1 Million Investment for Innovative Play Spaces Grants

Building on the success of our Meet Me at the Park Earth Month campaign, NRPA and The Walt Disney Company are coming together to invest $1 million in innovative play spaces grants.

It is well known that play is vital to our health and wellbeing. This investment supports NRPA and Disney's combined goal of providing one million kids and families with greater access to play.

Park and Recreation agencies in all 50 states, including D.C. and U.S. territories are invited to share their best ideas on increasing access to play for children and families. Grants will range between $10,000 and $50,000. Agencies with the most innovative and impactful projects will be awarded funding.

Grant applications are due June 23.

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What is tech's role in parks?

Technology in parks is not new, but there is concern over the extent of its appropriateness for public places. This article looks at some of the advantages, such as the use of sensors to track usage patterns and the use of social media for promotion and marketing.

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Improving Natural Grass Field Quality

By Jerad Minnick

The demand for use of grass fields continues to increase; however, most field maintenance programs have not changed at all over the past 20 years. Now, with data guiding the way, older grass field maintenance programs can be updated, focusing on the following five key areas, to support their high use.

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Toolkit now available: Family Health & Fitness Day, June 10

Now is the time to start planning and promoting your Family Health & Fitness Day activities. To get you started, NRPA put together a promotional toolkit that includes press materials, sample social media posts, a customizable poster, logo and more. Don't forget to share your Family Health & Fitness Day ideas, events and photos with us online using the hashtag #NRPAFamilyFitDay.

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Embracing the Hack Attack

By Matt Brubaker

If you ask the typical park and recreation professional what a “hackathon” is, you most likely would be met with a blank stare. A hackathon is typically an event where a group of energy-drinking, pizza-fueled software developers and programmers gather to work toward meeting a challenge in a short period of time.

You don’t normally hear about a hackathon in the context of parks, but someone had to break that mold and it was Metro Parks Tacoma (Washington). This independent park district in Tacoma, Washington, decided to hold its own hackathon and invite local developers to identify new, innovative and fun ways technology could improve access to and engagement with parks and recreation.

The hackathon, dubbed “Parks and People United through Technology,” took place April 14–15 at the STAR Center in Tacoma with the support of multiple sponsors. More than 100 programmers, developers and designers showed up ready to meet the challenge. They were divided into 11 teams and were given 13 hours over the two days to develop a concept, build it out as far as they could and prepare a presentation.

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New app transports you through NYC’s historic cityscape with archival photos
Courtesy of the Architect's Newspaper

By Andrew Davis

NEW YORK - Finally, a digital archive of historic New York City photos that geolocates to your smartphone! This new app mines the digital collections of three NYC cultural institutions, placing the images onto an interactive map of the city.

Working with Brooklyn Historical Society, the New York Public Library, and the Museum of the City of New York, Urban Archive has made accessible over 2,500 images from all five boroughs.

The app has a sophisticated interface that, among other features, sends push notifications when you walk pass a historic building, giving new agency to urban explorers and history enthusiasts. The app also has curated walking tours of certain neighborhoods and a popular side-by-side photo generator that produces images you can share on social media.

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Online tool supports ‘risky play’
Courtesy of Child in the City

A free online tool to encourage and assist parents to allow their children more opportunities to enjoy ‘risky’ outdoor play has been developed by the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health together with its Department of Pediatrics. The tool,, walks parents through their options and identify priorities for their children. It aims to help them address common concerns about playing outside and give them both the information and a process to develop an action plan for changing their approach to their children’s outdoor play.

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Native trees in urban forests vulnerable to climate change
Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By Don Behm

Nearly one-third of all trees in urban forests wrapped around the southwest shore of Lake Michigan are those species found to be most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, says a new study by the U.S. Forest Service.

The health and numbers of at least 85 tree species evaluated in the study are expected to decline over the next several decades.

Urban forests in a region extending from southwestern Michigan through northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois to southeastern Wisconsin will need to adapt to a climate change forecast that includes rising temperatures and increasing precipitation, according to the study published this month, "Chicago Wilderness Region Urban Forest Vulnerability Assessment and Synthesis."

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McMansions Are Killing L.A.'s Urban Forest
Courtesy of City Lab

By Laura Bliss

CALIFORNIA - Urban forests are worth billions of dollars, thanks to their ability to purify air, cool overheated streets, filter runoff, and raise property values. That’s why many U.S. cities are pushing hard to plant more of them.

But a new study from the University of Southern California says cities, and trees, may be better served by preserving the waning leaf coverage that exists. Tree cover declined at alarming rates in L.A. County’s 20 largest cities between 2000 and 2009, during which time officials called on homeowners to plant tons more. One major disconnect can be traced to housing policy, as compact residences swelled into McMansions and sucked up trees in the process.

Oddly enough, this research—led by USC spatial scientists Su Jin Lee, Travis Longcore, John P. Wilson, and Catherine Rich of the Urban Wildlands Group, forthcoming in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening—casts 1950s suburban development as a friend to environmental health.

The post-war, one-story bungalow might be the avatar of evil in many an anti-sprawler’s view, but the authors write that these units were actually pretty decent at conserving trees and grass, thanks to the “cultural value of appreciation for greenery and shade” embedded in the suburban promise. Previous research has shown this appreciation helped drive an overall increase in tree coverage between the 1920s and 2006 in certain parts of L.A., largely thanks to trees planted on private land.

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City, county parks take stand to save trees
Courtesy of the San Diego Union Tribune

By Phil Diehl

CALIFORNIA - While drought and pests such as bark beetles have teamed up to kill huge swaths of trees in San Diego’s back country, park officials in North County’s urban areas are acting fast to avoid the devastation.

Vigilance, irrigation and adaptive strategies have kept most public parks, street medians and residential common areas green and shady. Trees that die have quickly been replaced and, in some cases, yielded to new or different species.

“The county has a ‘no net loss’ tree policy” that calls for three trees to be planted for each one that dies, said Chris Krstevski, a ranger at the county’s Guajome Regional Park on the border of Oceanside and Vista.

Diversification also is a survival strategy at the 37-acre San Diego Botanical Garden in Encinitas, where visitors will find one of the widest selections of trees and plants in North County.

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When the park across the street is a world away
Courtesy of the Trust for Public Land

COLORADO - In the city’s northeast corner, the grid ends abruptly in an open prairie. Instead of cars and trucks, a herd of bison lumbers across the grass. Bald eagles perch in tall cottonwood trees, taking in the panoramic view of downtown Denver on the horizon.

This is the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, 15,000 acres of open space within one of the fastest-growing metro areas in the country. Bison were reintroduced in 2007. A new visitor center opened in 2011, and a 10-mile wildlife-viewing drive opened in 2016. Hiking trails offer an escape from the city barely 20 minutes from downtown. For nature-lovers in the Denver area, it sounds almost too good to be true.

And for many people, it is. Because the refuge has only a few access points, it can take longer to get there from a neighborhood on the park’s border than it does from the middle of the city. “For a lot of these neighborhoods, the nearest entrance to the refuge is miles away by car,” says Loretta Pineda. She’s executive director of Environmental Learning for Kids, or E.L.K., an organization that works to connect kids in northeast Denver to nature. “We serve mostly low-income families, with parents who might not have the time or resources to drive all the way around to the gate. You’d be surprised how many students don’t even know the refuge is here, even though they’ve grown up right next to it.”

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Rue Mapp on changing the face of the outdoors
Courtesy of the Trust for Public Land

We were honored to welcome Rue Mapp to our annual conference of volunteers last week. Mapp is the founder of Outdoor Afro, a national social network that connects African American outdoor lovers to nature—and each other.

Mapp launched Outdoor Afro as a blog in 2009. In the eight years since, she has become one of the nation’s most influential voices on diversity in the outdoors. "We’re in the business of culture shift," she told our volunteers. "There are all these little indicators that we’re moving in the right direction. I’m seeing a change in how we’re talking about communities of color in the outdoors and whose voices are getting heard."

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All San Franciscans can walk to a park in 10 minutes
Courtesy of the Sacramento Bee

By Jon Schultz

CALIFORNIA - San Francisco is the first U.S. city to offer all its residents access to a park within a 10-minute walk, it was announced Wednesday by The Trust for Public Land, which assesses the parks of the country’s 100 biggest cities.

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Do Good Fences Make Good Neighborhood Parks?
Courtesy of Planetizen

ILLINOIS - A small park near Chicago's Magnificent Mile, called Seneca Park, was recently redesigned by Chicago-based Site Design Group, but neighbors are complaining that the proposed design would make the park too welcoming for people they don't want hanging around their homes.

"The city aimed to make the park more inviting, in part by removing what it thought was an imposing fence surrounding the property," David Matthews writes for DNA Info. Neighbors disagreed, claiming that "really shady" visitors sometimes gather in the park in large groups and as early as 5:30 in the morning. "Parks officials tried to assuage neighbors' fears by proposing a 4-foot-tall fence around the park. But that wasn't tall enough for some people who attended the meeting," Mathews writes.

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Director of Regional Parks
County of San Bernardino, California
Posted March 24, 2017; Open until filled.

Director Recreation, Parks, & Cultural Affairs
DeKalb County Government, Georgia
Posted May 4, 2017. Open until filled.

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