March 2017 Print


George Page, Director
Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority, Georgia

Brett Wallace, Landscape Architect II
BREC, Louisiana


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Join NACPRO this summer at the 2017 Special Park District Forum

June 6 to 8 - Canton, Ohio

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.


All registration is being handled by the Special Park District Forum. Full Forum and One-Day Rates are available. Early bird rates are available through May 1. Registration closes on May 31.

Registration is required if you plan to attend the NACPRO award ceremony.

For more information:


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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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Los Angeles Takes On Equity and Resilience with New Parks Funding
Courtesy of Planetizen

By Elana Eden

CALIFORNIA - After a comprehensive survey revealed a serious lack of quality open space in Los Angeles County, voters overwhelmingly approved a November ballot measure providing $93 million a year for existing and new parks countywide.

Los Angeles City Councilmember David Ryu and Planning Commissioner Richard Katz joined Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy Chair Irma Muñoz and Trust for Public Land’s Tori Kjer at the recent VerdeXchange Conference (VX2017) to envision how the 88 cities, unincorporated areas, and community partners of Los Angeles County will take advantage of this opportunity.

They explain that the parks assessment grounded claims of need across the county in real data, providing a basis for the equitable distribution of funding. A disparity in access to quality open space was a key finding of the survey.

The new funding will prioritize multi-agency cooperation and public-private partnerships, as well as multi-benefit projects. Those could be parks that include free community gardens, or that contribute to the county's overall climate resilience by acting as stormwater capture and treatment facilities.

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MSHOF to honor Jodie Adams, former Director of the Springfield-Green County Park Board
Courtesy of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame

March 30 - University Plaza Convention Center - Springfield, Missouri

The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame will soon honor Jodie Adams, a longtime leader in the Springfield Greene-County Park and Recreation Department who will be the first woman to receive the President’s Award.

Jodie Adams will be the first woman, and 10th recipient, to be honored with the President’s Award, given to someone who promotes sports across the state as well as promotes the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. Adams has served on the Hall of Fame’s Board of Trustees since 2004, supporting numerous efforts that have helped the Hall of Fame achieve more successes. A 2004 Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee and graduate of then-Southwest Missouri State, Adams worked 37 years in leadership positions for the Springfield-Greene County Parks and Recreation Department. Her tenure included serving as the City-County Director from 2006-2011. Adams was the first woman ever elected from Missouri, to serve as National President of the National Parks and Recreation Association, which supports all municipal park boards throughout the country. Adams enjoyed a standout tennis collegiate career, served as the General Manager of the Springfield Lasers of World Team Tennis and in 2010 was given the Samuel Hardy Award by the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

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Making a Case for Undeveloped Open Spaces

By Melissa May and Serda Ozbenian

Park and recreation agencies are leaders in preserving the natural landscape of the community they serve. NRPA’s Park Metrics reveals that the typical agency has management responsibility of more than 425 acres of developed and undeveloped open space. More than 40 percent of those acres are undeveloped. Choosing to develop or not develop a piece of land comes with great responsibilities as well as great consequences.

In a recent NRPA Park Pulse poll, more than 1,000 Americans were asked about the importance of local governments setting aside land for the sheer purpose of preserving the natural landscape. More than four in five surveyed Americans agree that local governments should be setting aside land for the sheer purpose of preserving the natural landscape. In addition, gender, age, region, household size and parental status had no effect on the outcome of the results.

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Gear up for Earth Month with Wildlife Explorers

March is the perfect time to start planning a nature discovery program for your out-of-school-time youth. Download the Wildlife Explorers workbook now and be ready to introduce your youth to nature during Earth Month in April. Anyone who downloads the workbook in March will be entered in a contest to receive 10 printed workbooks and Wildlife Explorers swag to kick off your program. Check out some great tips for starting Wildlife Explorers on the blog.

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Should Permits be Required to Create Virtual Constructions on Park Lands?
Courtesy of GP RED

In the Brave New World department, some public land agencies are now requiring permits for purveyors of augmented reality to impose images viewed in the virtual world on their real-world parks and other public spaces.

Venture Beat reports that Milwaukee County in Wisconsin has a new ordinance that requires companies creating virtual or mixed reality creations in parks to pay for a permit costing from $100 to $1,000. The rationale for this is that the influx of participants from games such as Pokemon Go causes impacts such as crowding, noise, trash, and other problems, and that permits allow the agency to control and manage such uses. Other agencies, including the State of Illinois, are considering similar laws.

Proponents of active living may want to ponder the ramifications of this and ask whether augmented reality--and the regulation of it--has the potential to motivate or stifle physical activity?


Denver Parks and Recreation now hiring homeless as full-time seasonal workers
Courtesy of the Denver Post

By Joe Vaccarelli

COLORADO - Rita Robledo is one of four people from the Denver Day Works program, launched last November to provide work opportunities for the homeless, to get hired as a full-time seasonal employee to work on cleaning up some of the city’s parks.

It’s her first job in more than five years after she was let go from her last regular job and a far cry from when she was trying to work day labor and hoping she would be picked for work by contractors.

Denver Parks and Recreation deputy executive director Scott Gilmore said the four new employees have been good assets so far, although he realizes just having a job isn’t enough.

“I’ve taken this program personal and so when we hire people on, I’m trying to make sure that we’re providing support services, making sure they have housing, making sure they can buy food, making sure they have bank accounts,” Gilmore said.

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Great Outdoors Month 2017 Will Be Most Important Ever
Courtesy of the American Recreation Coalition

Organizations across the country are preparing to celebrate June as Great Outdoors Month 2017. 2016 was the most successful Great Outdoors Month in history. Two signature events (Partners Outdoors 2016 and the GO West Campout), 17 Capital and Governor’s Campouts, thousands of partner events across the country and more helped introduce millions of Americans to healthy, active fun outdoors on their public lands and waters. Proclamations from the President and all 50 Governors recognized the economic and healthful importance of outdoor recreation to their states and the entire country.

Great Outdoors Month 2017 is shaping up to be an even greater success. Public and private partners are once again coming together to make events like Kids to Parks Day, National Trails Day, National Get Outdoors Day, National Fishing and Boating Week, the Great Outdoors Day of Service, Great American Campout and more bigger and better than ever before. Bipartisan support for Great Outdoors Month continues. The President is expected to join all 50 governors in proclaiming June as Great Outdoors Month. Governors will host kids on their residences’ lawns or in nearby state parks to introduce them to great outdoors experiences close to home.

This year will be incredibly important for outdoor recreation. New studies by the recreation community will document just how important outdoor recreation is to local, state and national economies, and recreation needs will be considered as the nation designs a new infrastructure investment program. As more and more Americans look for healthy, fun ways to stay active, the outdoor recreation community is uniquely positioned to help people lead healthier lifestyles by connecting them with their great outdoors – and the celebration of Great Outdoors Month 2017 will lead the way!

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Solar-Powered Water Wheels Prevented 1 Million Pounds of Trash from Entering Baltimore Harbor
Courtesy of

MARYLAND - Mr. Trash Wheel, located at the mouth of Jones Falls, has stopped more than one million pounds of garbage from entering Baltimore’s Inner Harbor since its installation in May 2014. Because it has been so effective, a second water wheel, “Professor Trash Wheel,” was installed at Harris Creek Park in Canton and opened this past December.

The wheels are a part of the Waterfront Partnership‘s Healthy Harbor Initiative, which aims to make Baltimore Harbor swimmable and fishable by 2020.

The iconic harbor is “polluted by millions of gallons of sewage, hundreds of tons of trash, and stormwater runoff are polluting the harbor and streams every year,” the local environmental nonprofit states on its website.

So how do these devices work? Using water currents, trash and debris floats into containment booms in front of the wheel. The trash moves onto a conveyor belt that leads to a dumpster barge. When the dumpster is full, the trash is towed away. A backup solar panel array powers the wheel when the current is not strong enough.

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The North Face Explore Fund
Courtesy of the River Management Society

The North Face Explore Fund will offer grants in the following two categories: Outdoor Experiences and Leadership, and Environmental Stewardship. Across both categories, programs should show how they are 1) increasing diversity and access to underrepresented populations in the outdoors, and 2) developing an appreciation for the outdoors through multiple engagements versus one-day events.

The application deadline is April 5, 2017. Visit the Fund’s website to complete the eligibility quiz and submit an online application.

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Parks Without Borders
Courtesy of NRPA

By Mitchell J. Silver

When walking down a New York City street, the average person doesn’t experience public space in terms of jurisdiction, nor do they care whether this piece is managed by the Department of Transportation or that this other part is overseen by the Parks Department. But, unfortunately, that is the approach historically taken when planning and building the public realm, and it can lead to a disjointed series of public spaces that create obstacles for public use.

Well-designed, attractive and welcoming public spaces can become a positive center of a community’s life. The more attractive, inviting and accessible our public spaces are, the more they will be used and the more opportunities there will be to be part of the community. It’s even possible to walk by a park without realizing that it is there.

In New York City, the public realm makes up about 40 percent of the land area: with 14 percent to parks and 26 percent to streets, sidewalks and other public spaces. Yet, this precious resource that makes places livable is not planned or managed as a seamless system.

That’s why, in 2016, NYC Parks launched Parks Without Borders, an initiative that addresses inconsistent park design and unifies the public realm. Our goal is to promote freedom of movement, and to make all parts of public space as seamless as possible in order to make the most out of this limited but important resource.

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Detroit's riverfront plan includes a beach, more parks, fewer condos
Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press

By John Gallagher

MICHIGAN - Detroit's east riverfront will not, after all, become the near-exclusive domain of high-end condominium and apartment dwellers.

In a bold, new, and more democratic vision unveiled Wednesday evening, city planners showed off a blueprint to create three zones of public parkland on the riverfront where once private development had been scheduled to rise.

The vision reverses a long-held presumption that the riverfront running east from the Renaissance Center would fill up with pricey residences and shops to boost the city's population and tax base. Instead, this new vision boldly accepts that the value of public access to the riverfront outweighs the value of a few more condos and shops.

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What makes a good urban park?
Courtesy of

By Peter Katz

Everyone has a favorite park, or should. Mine is Washington Square, in the heart of San Francisco, bordering Chinatown and the laid back book stores and coffee houses of North Beach. First platted around 1850, the park is mostly open with a simple looping walkway. The subtle ripples and rolls of its naturalistic topography give me a sense of how the city’s hills and valleys must have once looked. In and around the park, neighborhood life flourishes. Regulars claim its sunny benches to read and chat. Elderly residents practice Tai-Chi. School children play frisbee. Commuters disembark from buses along the park’s edge on Columbus Avenue. Lunchtime picnics are daily events on the sprawling green lawn.

Unfortunately most small urban parks, particularly those in downtowns, fail to deliver the sort of civic experience that can be enjoyed in Washington Square every day. Such parks are the victims of strapped city budgets, the latest theories of crime prevention and the nervous tinkerings of overzealous designers. Ultimately, these assaults can be traced back to a larger cause–the disinvestment in cities which occurred as a result of America's postwar flight to the suburbs.

Though the money needed to build and maintain urban parks left town, the people who needed them most remained. By the seventies and eighties, when downtown land values soared along with the gleaming new highrises, it became ever-harder to realize the idea of a true public realm at the heart of our cities. Many once-proud parks like New York's Bryant Park and Los Angeles' Pershing Square fell on hard times. Lack of funds led to lower standards of maintenance and security, which in turn led to crime, drug dealing, and the use of parks as havens for the homeless.

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Survey: deferred maintenance reduces Milwaukee County parks use
Courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By Don Behm

WISCONSIN - Long-deferred maintenance is reducing the public's use of Milwaukee County Parks as well as user satisfaction, says a report summarizing a 2016 survey of county households.

Around 40% of 600 survey participants said lack of maintenance of restrooms and other facilities discouraged them from going to county parks more frequently than they do, according to findings of the survey conducted by county consultant ETC Institute in August of last year.

Another finding related to deferred maintenance of the parks inventory: Residents feel it is more important to repair and improve existing parks and facilities rather than build new ones or acquire more parkland, ETC said in its report.

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ORIR Holds Capitol Hill Briefings on Growing the Outdoor Recreation Economy
Courtesy of the American Recreation Coalition

Washington, D.C. (March 7, 2017) – Outdoor recreation took center stage on Capitol Hill March 7. The Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable (ORIR) held briefings for staffers from both the U.S. House of Representatives and the United States Senate, introducing the newly formed organization itself and detailing the tremendous economic impact of outdoor recreation within the United States.

ORIR representatives reported that outdoor recreation generates $646 billion in direct economic spending and supports some 6.1 million jobs in the U.S. And they explained that there are great opportunities to increase that impact in the future by expanding access to healthy, active fun outdoors on America’s public lands and waters. They also briefed Congressional staffers about ORIR’s key goals, which include:

1. Fast tracking the implementation of the recently enacted Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC) Act;
2. Prioritizing recreation-related infrastructure improvements in federal agency budgets;
3. Establishing more public-private partnerships to address maintenance backlogs on public lands;
4. Achieving better balance between recreation and conservation in federal agency decisions; and
5. Developing and deploying a digital information strategy for outdoor recreation on federal lands.

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Webinar: The Place Value Economy - The role of outdoor recreation in creating great places
Courtesy of Community Builders

Date: Wednesday, March 22
Time: 12:00PM - 1:00PM Mountain Time
Cost: Free

Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse, generating billions in consumer spending and providing thousands of good jobs for communities in the American West. Many of these same communities advertise recreation in their efforts to attract new business and entrepreneurs. Outdoor recreation is increasingly finding its way into community’s growth and economic development strategies.

In this webinar we will explore the role of outdoor recreation as a tool for improving quality of life and local economies. Following an introduction to the findings of our Place Value study, which examines the relationships between community qualities and economic activity, a panel will discuss strategies for leveraging outdoor recreation for economic development at the state and local level.

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Connecting Communities to Nature
Courtesy of NRPA

Austin, Texas
May 17-19, 2017

I invite you to join NRPA, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, National League of Cities and the Children & Nature Network's Cities Connecting Children to Nature team in Austin, TX to discuss innovative strategies that create meaningful connections to the outdoors within urban communities. Explore first hand, through site visits and facilitated discussions, how park agencies and partner organizations are connecting young people to the outdoors through collective impact partnerships.

Spots are filling up quickly, so register soon!

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2017 National Outdoor Recreation Conference

Creating a Relevant an Inclusive Future

May 1 - 4, 2017 - Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona

The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals is excited to present the 2017 National Outdoor Recreation Conference - the only conference that supports the training needs of professionals that manage outdoor recreation in natural landscapes.

The conference program this year has a strong focus on cultural relevancy and inclusion. Thought leaders will engage and challenge conference participants in plenary sessions, 51 concurrent sessions, 21 poster presentations, 3 deep dive training sessions, and 5 field workshops.

Scottsdale is an interesting place to explore. There are hundreds of restaurants and boutiques within an easy walking distance. You also have the option of using one of the hotel's free cruiser bikes or hailing a free shuttle on Scottsdale’s golf cart taxis. The Saguaro Hotel is in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale, adjacent to the Civic Center Mall, a shady oasis that that hosts cultural events, live music, the Museum of Contemporary Arts and the Center for Performing Arts.

Registration is open and a preliminary program is posted.

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Senior Park Planner
Riverside County Regional Parks and Open-Space District, California
Posted February 24, 2017; Closes March 13, 2017

Executive Director
Tinley Park-Park District, Illinois
Posted February 10, 2017; Closes March 17, 2017

For more information:


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