July 2017 Print


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Topeka-based Midwest Health gains national recognition for donation to develop aquatic facility
Courtesy of CJonline.com

By Tim Hrenchir

KANSAS - When you get national recognition, “it is always a big deal,” Bob Archer said Tuesday.

Archer, chairman of the Shawnee County Commission, spoke during a ceremony at Midwest Health Aquatic Center, in which Bill Maasen — president of the National Association of County Parks and Recreation Officials — presented NACPRO’s “Outstanding Contributor Award” to Topeka-based Midwest Health.

NACPRO recognized the company and its founders and owners, Jim Klausman and Butch Eaton, for a $1 million gift Midwest Health made to support creation of the aquatic center, which opened in August.

Read more: http://cjonline.com/news/local/local-government/2017-06-28/topeka-based-midwest-health-gains-national-recognition


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A conversation with Jonathan Blasher, next director of Metro's Parks and Nature Department
Courtesy of OregonMetro.gov

By Laura Oppenheimer Odom

Portland, Oregon - Jonathan Blasher’s love of rugged Oregon landscapes has taken him from building forts on the outskirts of Eugene to building a nonprofit dedicated to play — and, now, a new chapter as the next director of Metro’s Parks and Nature Department.

When he takes the helm in August, Blasher will oversee 17,000 acres of parks, trails and natural areas across greater Portland, from the Chehalem Mountains on the west to the Sandy River Gorge on the east. He was selected from a national search to guide Metro’s work to protect clean water, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and connect people with nature close to home.

Read more: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/news/conversation-jonathan-blasher-next-director-metros-parks-and-nature-department


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Drone legislation touts local control

By Kevan Stone

The past few weeks have seen the courts and Congress focus their attention on unmanned aerial systems (UAS), AKA “drones.” Counties, which have embraced UAS technology for such uses as emergency response and infrastructure inspection, have been watching these developments since they will affect the ways they use and enforce laws that keep citizens safe.

In December of 2015, the FAA issued a rule requiring that all model (non-commercial) UAS pilots register their systems with the federal government.

The rule, which had not been formally finalized, required model aircraft owners to provide their names, email and physical addresses; pay a $5 registration fee; and display a unique drone ID number at all times. Those who failed to comply could face civil and criminal penalties.

This requirement did not sit well with some drone enthusiasts and industry leaders, and they went to court to fight the rule. They won. The court immediately ceased the requirement to register recreational drones. This will make identifying drone operators that much harder since there will now be no formal method to log who is operating recreational drones.

In Congress, however, there is renewed activity to assist local governments to have a say as to who, how and when drone operators may operate their aircraft. A bipartisan quartet of lawmakers, Democratic Sens. Diane Feinstein of California and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut joined Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mike Lee of Utah in sponsoring the Drone Federalism Act of 2017.

Read more: http://www.naco.org/articles/drone-legislation-touts-local-control


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How Can Neighborhood Parks Attract More Users?

By Deborah A. Cohen and Kristin Leuschner

The United States is home to more than 108,000 parks, ranging from large regional parks and natural resource areas to sports complexes and small “pocket parks.” Most urban residents live in close proximity to one or more neighborhood parks, which are ideal places for people to engage in physical activity. Fewer than half of Americans currently meet physical activity guidelines and that inactivity is contributing to a growing epidemic of chronic disease. Given that park space and facilities already exist, what would it take to encourage people to use this space to be more physically active?

To explore these issues, the RAND Corporation recently conducted the first national study of neighborhood parks — a special project sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Our team of 60 field staff visited a representative sample of parks across the country to understand who is using parks, what features they are using and which factors contribute most to park use and physical activity.

In addition to seeing how people are using neighborhood parks, the team also assessed whether there are differences in the way parks are used by men and women, young and old, and in high- and low-income neighborhoods. Our results provide insights into how neighborhood parks are being used today, and what can be done to ensure that parks take a more prominent role in promoting physical activity in the future.

Read more: http://www.nrpa.org/parks-recreation-magazine/2017/july/how-can-neighborhood-parks-attract-more-users/


Management of Park and Recreation Agencies, 4th Edition

Recreation Agencies is sponsored by the Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA) in order to share with professionals' now and in the future' the desirable practices of the profession embodied in the National Accreditation Standards for park and recreation agencies. These standards are used as the guideline for what should be included in the book. Each chapter addresses specific standards needed for accreditation. The purpose of the book is to help administrators of every area of parks and recreation, including those in for-profit, nonprofit, commercial, and public operations. The emphasis is on public park and recreation agencies because those are the agencies for which the standards were written. However, each standard can be used by any agency that provides park and recreation facilities, programs, or services. It is geared to managers and what they need to know, not to the program or maintenance supervisors.

For more information: http://apps.nrpa.org/Store/detail.aspx?id=MANAGEM08


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New Tool Helps Planners Make a Stronger Case for Parks
Courtesy of Next City

By Rachel Dovey

It’s no secret that city parks and green space are good for more than recreation. They’re beneficial to residents’ physical and mental health and can even have an impact on such big, thorny problems as climate change and voter disengagement.

But quantifying those benefits for policymakers, stakeholders and funders remains an issue. To that end, a trio of organizations that focus on such things — the Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land and the Conservation Fund — have launched a database to help give the lowly park more political clout.

The Greenprint Resource Hub is aimed at “practitioners, policymakers and community members looking to incorporate parks, open space, and agriculture into their economic and social goals,” according to a release (a “greenprint” is a conservation plan that highlights the benefits of parks, open space and working lands). The database “includes detailed case studies of how cities and surrounding regions have incorporated nature into city and regional planning, informing their decisions about how to grow and where to protect land to secure habitat, water, recreation and food production.”

Read more: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/tool-helps-planners-make-stronger-case-parks


The City Parks Welcoming Immigrants
Courtesy of City Lab

By Mimi Kirk

There’s an area in the northeast corner of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park that feels a little eerie if you come upon it by accident, as most do. The Rose Garden, as it’s called, is a long lawn with three empty fountain bases surrounded by trees and bushes. “It’s very secluded,” says Lucy Gardner, the communications and marketing manager for Prospect Park Alliance, a nonprofit that works with New York City to care for the park. “Visitors don’t usually spend a lot of time there.”

The Alliance is looking to change that. But it won’t be restoring the space to one of its earlier iterations, such as a playground or a literal rose garden. Rather, it is working with the communities who live around the park’s northeast border to find out what kind of space they would be most excited to use. Included in this population are immigrants, particularly those from the Caribbean and Latin America.

Hester Street Collaborative, a nonprofit that specializes in connecting with communities who aren’t likely to be plugged in via traditional channels such as mailing lists, is helping the Alliance gather this feedback. Nisha Baliga, Hester Street’s director of participatory planning, says she’s focusing on engaging non-English speakers as well as young families, seniors, and low-income communities of color.

“We’re doing the usual workshops where we announce the process and ask for feedback,” she says, “but we’re pairing that with pop-up engagement inside and outside the park, as well as collaboration with trusted community-based organizations.” This strategy can take the form of going to a park drum circle and talking with the participants, or meeting with attendees of a relevant community center—and bringing a translator.

Read more: https://www.citylab.com/life/2017/07/how-cities-are-making-parks-more-welcoming-for-immigrants/532263/


Amid complaints, city offers details on DNA testing from Boise ponds hit by E. coli
Courtesy of the Idaho Statesman

By Nicole Blanchard

IDAHO - The city of Boise has shed more light on the DNA testing methods it used to determine that dog feces were the primary cause of an E. coli outbreak at two popular Boise swimming ponds.

Boise Parks and Recreation was roundly criticized on social media after choosing to ban dogs from both Quinn’s Pond and nearby Esther Simplot Park following the test results. Some complainants expressed disappointment at losing a spot for pets to play — others offered skepticism that dogs were the main cause of the ponds’ elevated E. coli levels.

According to a press release from Parks and Rec, samples from ponds at both parks were sent to Source Molecular, a Florida-based laboratory that analyzes fecal bacteria in a practice called microbial source tracking to determine the bacteria’s origin.

Read more: http://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/article159322569.html


Creating Work Plan Is First Step to Updating Iowa’s Oldest OHV Park
Courtesy of NOHVCC

By Dave Halsey

First in a series. Across the country, there are off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail systems that started out as user trails. Many have since been redesigned into safer, more economically and environmentally sustainable trail systems that also provide a great rider experience. This article series will provide a step-by-step look at the redevelopment of an OHV Park in Iowa that is 23 years old, showing its age, but filled with potential to be one of today’s “Great Trails” destinations.

Ever since it opened in 1994, the Bluff Creek OHV Park in southern Iowa has been an incredibly popular riding area. Built on an abandoned coal mine in Mahaska County, southwest of Oskaloosa, it’s 350 acres of winding trails, steep hills, three motocross tracks, a no-frills campground, and a deep pit rutted with trails in every direction, that dirt bike riders call the “gravity cavity.”

After a few years of discussion and planning, park managers and the DNR agreed to take the first step to improving Bluff Creek: creating a work plan that includes an assessment and inventory of the riding area. “We want to know what we have, and what we could have,” said Rhonda Fowler, the Iowa DNR’s Program Planner and Education Coordinator for OHVs and snowmobiles. The DNR hired Great Outdoors Consultants to work with all the stakeholders and create a detailed Park Development Plan.

Read more: http://nohvcc.org/Materials/Newsletter/june-2017


Erosion control during trail maintenance and construction
Courtesy of American Trails

New Hampshire's Bureau of Trails published a guide to reducing Impacts to wetlands, rivers, and stream areas. A variety of techniques are detailed in "Best Management Practices for Erosion Control during Trail Maintenance and Construction."

For more information: http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/BMPmanual2010.pdf


A classification system for trails and recreation corridors
Courtesy of American Trails

The Province of Alberta studied ways to document how to provide for a diversity of experiences for trail users. A system is proposed to identify Trail Conditions, Levels Of Experience, and Type Of Activity. The trail setting is also described as Primitive, Semi-developed, or Developed. Snow and water routes, and both motorized and nonmotorized trails are included in the "Recreation Corridor and Trails Classification."

For more information: http://atfiles.org/files/pdf/Alberta-Rec-Corridors-Classification.pdf


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How Congress Turned on National Parks and Public Lands
Courtesy of Men's Journal

By Ben Radding

Not even a decade ago, public lands and National Parks were considered sacrosanct by both parties. Democratic and Republican presidents alike regularly used the Antiquities Act to create new monuments and had, generally, fairly unanimous support from Congress. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which uses profits from offshore drilling as funding for public parks and recreation, was a bipartisan effort that both parties supported. Public land was not considered sacred to all, but untouchable for most.

“Traditionally, Congress has been supportive of our National Parks and public lands in a very bipartisan fashion,” says Jesse Prentice-Dunn of the Center for Western Priorities. “I don't think you actually have to look back that far to a time when Republicans and Democrats could agree on that.”

But since 2010, as think tanks like American Progress have pointed out, Congress has passed exactly zero parks or wilderness bills, instead seeking to defund the LWCF, ease up land transfer rules, and put many public lands up for auction. Last year, the Republican National Committee even went so far as to add transfer of lands from the federal government to the states in its official party platform. The general public still loves public lands — National Parks and public lands have consistently polled very high among voters — but the political viewpoint on them has certainly changed. So what happened?

Read more: http://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/articles/how-congress-turned-on-national-parks-and-public-lands-w490368


As cities look to get greener, lower-income residents fear gentrification
Courtesy of USA Today

By Aamer Madhani

CHICAGO — By many measures, the effort to convert old elevated railway on Chicago’s Northwest Side into a signature park has been a smashing success.

The 2.7-mile recreation trail, known as The 606, built on old Chicago & Pacific Railroad line has been praised as a model use of public space since it opened two years ago. It's regularly packed with bikers, joggers and walkers.

Art installations and eclectic programming — including evening star gazing sessions, Afro-Latin music and dance demonstrations and puppet shows —have helped make the linear park a destination that draws visitors from beyond the four neighborhoods the trail bisects. Volunteers of the park have even picked fruit grown from the Serviceberry shrubs along the trail and turned them over to a popular Italian ice shop to make treats for a fundraiser for the trail.

The 606's charms notwithstanding, some residents along the western portion of the trail say the recreational space has been both a blessing and curse. It brought much-needed green space in a part of Chicago that lacked it, but is also driving up property values and rent prices in their once affordable neighborhood.

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/25/high-lines-green-space-spur-gentrification-displacement/103140856/


The NYC park is testing pop-up stops that deliver Wi-Fi by bike
Courtesy of Fast Company

By Meg Miller

NEW YORK - Part of the appeal of Governors Island—the 172-acre public park located right off the southern shore of Manhattan—is the park’s feeling of seclusion. Just 800 yards away from New York City, it’s close enough to visit with a short ferry ride, yet remote enough that patches of the immaculately designed park don’t get cell service.

That treasured sense of disconnect can be a challenge for the park’s planners, though. How do you still provide all of the information and resources that visitors might need out there, without ruining the park’s biggest asset?

The answer, according to the Brooklyn-based architecture firm StudioKCA, is the Mobile Information Unit (MIU)–essentially, a pop-up rest stop that provides Wi-Fi, lighting, and seating, as well as information for your park stay and power for your devices.

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Towns to Trails: Creating a 200-mile loop trail in the Columbia River Gorge
Courtesy of KATU News

By Stuart Tomlinson

In the not too distant future, visitors to the Columbia River Gorge will be able to do all or part of a 200-mile loop trail that connects wineries, breweries, lodging and restaurants.
It's called Towns to Trails. One of the gateway communities on the Washington side of the Gorge is Washougal, where a shiny new trail will be a departure point.

Day hiking is already a very popular activity in the Gorge, but the nonprofit group Friends of the Gorge decided about 6 years ago to link existing and new trails together. The recently completed Washougal Waterfront Park will be an anchor point for the trail at the Gorge's west end.

“The opportunity for international and world class traveling is to be able to land at Portland International Airport and to be able to hit one of these gateway communities, and then hike east to the next town ...,” said Friends of the Gorge spokeswoman, Renee Tkach. "The idea is not to have that big backpack on your back any longer. It's something where you have a daypack so you're packing just something you need for your day essentials.”

Read more: http://katu.com/news/travel-and-outdoors/towns-to-trails-creating-a-200-mile-loop-trail-in-the-columbia-river-gorge


Sarasota’s beaches weren’t trashed this holiday weekend
Courtesy of the Herald Tribune

By Carlos Munoz

FLORIDA - Less than two months after a public outcry over litter on Sarasota County beaches, officials said beach-goers have become vigilant when it comes to picking up their trash.

Extra county staff and volunteers were needed to clean up more than 48 tons of garbage left during Memorial Day weekend, but after the after a festive Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix that brought thousands to Lido Key beaches this weekend, there was hardly a need for volunteers, Sarasota County operations manager Ryan Murphy said.

“We had a volunteer group scheduled to come out this morning,” Murphy said. “When the person came out there was nothing for them to do. They left and said they’d be back on the July 5 for the liberty cleanup. There wasn’t enough (trash) to pick up to have volunteers today.”

A Sarasota County social media campaign dubbed ”#PackInPackOut” helped.

Read more:


National summit showcases health, economic and social justice benefits of walkable communities
Courtesy of America Walks

By Jay Walljasper

Many things leap to mind when someone mentions walking: fitness, fun, fresh air, relaxation, friends and maybe your most comfortable pair of shoes. But a word that rarely arises is “power”.

That will begin to change after the 2017 National Walking Summit (held in St. Paul, Minnesota September 13-15), which is themed “Vital and Vibrant Communities—The Power of Walkability”.

Like earlier summits, this event brings together people of all backgrounds to strategize ways of making sure the advantages of walking can be shared by all, no matter what their income or where they live.

Walking advocates once focused primarily on physical health —spurred by mounting evidence that physical activity is key to preventing disease—but now are stepping up to promote social, economic and community health. Their ultimate goal is to transform towns and neighborhoods across America into better places for everyone to live.

“The power of walking is becoming more clear all the time,” declares Kate Kraft, executive director of America Walks. “Community connections, social equity, a sense of well-being, business opportunities, affordable housing, more choices for kids and older people, a cleaner environment—these are some of the benefits of walkable places.”

Read more: http://americawalks.org/the-positive-power-of-walking/


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Webinar: Getting to “Yes” on Greenway Trails in Your Community
Courtesy of American Trails

Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Pacific / 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Eastern
Cost: FREE members / $55 nonmembers (CEUs $20 additional fee)

This webinar will explore many of the social barriers that can make it difficult to get community support for multiuse trail projects. Social barriers are those issues that cannot easily be engineered away because they arise out of people’s values, emotions, and perceptions. We will look at how to address residents’ fears about crime, loss of privacy, noise, depreciating property values, and other issues that are often raised when trying to get public support for new trails in urban settings. Other social barriers that will be explored include fiscal concerns, such as worries about new taxes and lack of future maintenance funds, and anxieties over potential environmental impacts. We will also discuss how the public engagement process itself can be structured to most effectively address these social barriers in a manner that is respectful and builds consensus. This webinar will be especially useful for planners, landscape architects, and trail advocates who are tasked with getting public approval for trail projects.

For more information: https://www.americantrails.org/store/shop/webinar-getting-to-yes-on-greenway-trails-in-your-community-july-20-2017/


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