March 2018 Print


David Bennett, Executive Director
Charleston County Parks & Recreation, South Carolina


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Last Chance to Submit your NACPRO Award Nominations

The deadline for award submissions is Friday, March 16, 2018 at midnight eastern daylight time.

Nominations are now being accepted for the NACPRO 2018 Awards. The annual NACPRO Awards Banquet recognizes and honors excellence in parks and recreation at the county, regional, special district level throughout the nation. 

The presentation of awards will be held in Nashville, Tennessee on Sunday, July 15, 2018 during the National Association of Counties Conference.

For more information:


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


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E-Bikes and Open Space Trails
Courtesy of Planetizen

By James Brasuell

COLORADO - "As part of a pilot project, Class 1 electric bicycles are allowed on natural surface trails within Jefferson County Open Space parks. Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes are allowed on the parks’ paved trails," reports Holly Graham.

The hope is that allowing e-bikes on trails will enable more people to experience the outdoors, but the county will be testing the idea for safety effects and any additional wear and tear on the trails.

Around the country, the widespread adoption of e-bikes has caused perhaps a surprising variety of policy responses.

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NRPA Innovation Labs

How Communities Can Attract Businesses: Parks Making the Case for Quality of Life

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - May 16-18, 2018

NRPA, in collaboration with the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department, are bringing together leaders inside and outside of parks and recreation to explore how our field makes an impact on regional economic competitiveness and quality of life. We know parks contribute significantly, but how does the private sector see us, and what tools and funding is out there to help ensure that our parks and recreational opportunities continue to drive economic development and attract, businesses, talent and visitors?

This Innovation Lab only has 30 spots available to ensure the opportunity for close dialogue, networking and information sharing. These events typically sell out, so reserve your spot soon.

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NRPA Spotlight Awards

Accepting applications through March 23, 2018.

Spotlight Awards are presented to individuals to honor their efforts — both professional and personal — in the field of parks and recreation. Award winners include park and recreation professionals, volunteers, engaged community members and park advocates.

- Robert M. Artz Advocate Award
- Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award
- RWJF–NRPA Award for Health Equity
- National Distinguished Professional Award
- Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt Award for Excellence in Recreation and Park Research

For more information:


The Economic Impact of Local Parks
Courtesy of NRPA

America’s local park and recreation agencies generated $154 billion in economic activity in 2015, nearly $81 billion in value added and more than 1.1 million jobs that boosted labor income by $55 billion.

These are the key findings from research conducted by NRPA and the Center for Regional Analysis at George Mason University for the Economic Impact of Local Parks Report.

Policymakers and elected officials at all levels of government should take notice. Investments made to local and regional parks not only raise the standard of living in our neighborhoods, towns and cities, but they also spark activity that can ripple throughout the economy.

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Facing Contention: 21 Tips to Detox Public Engagement
Courtesy of Planetizen

By Dave Biggs

If you feel like you’re facing increasing tensions in your public engagement processes, you are not alone. Across the country, the climate of public discourse has been shifting dramatically. Planners and public engagement practitioners, particularly those working for government agencies, increasingly find themselves on the front lines of highly polarized debates. Thankfully there are proven ways to detoxify public engagement and designing public participation processes to find common ground.

In the fall of 2017, MetroQuest conducted a workshop at the International Association for Public Participation Annual Conference to identify strategies and best practices when designing public engagement processes for projects facing contention. The results of this workshop, which brought together 100 public engagement practitioners, are now available as a free eBook: Facing Contention: 21 Tips to Detox Public Engagement.

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You Have My Word on It: Signage in City Parks
Courtesy of NRPA

By Peter Harnik

Parks without any signs are certainly deficient, but parks with useless or annoying signs can be cluttered, alienating or even counter-productively infuriating. On the other hand, parks with great signs can lift spirits, educate users, build solidarity and be downright entertaining.

The purpose of this National Study of Neighborhood Parks, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was two-fold: (a) to discover whether there are disparities in management practices and usership between parks in high- and low-income areas, and (b) to identify which factors seem to be associated with greater physical activity in parks. The factors ranged from the amount of acreage to the number of facilities, and from the characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood to the level of programming. Although evaluation of signage was not a primary criterion, it turns out that it has an impact.

Finding the best tone for an urban park sign is not easy. Too mild and it may be ignored; too tough and it can engender anger and spite. Unfortunately, as the number of park employees declines, and as parks have fewer and fewer paid professionals to uphold rules and etiquette (and answer questions), more and more of those responsibilities fall to inanimate signs. Ironically, this is occurring just as the number of immigrant languages in many communities is proliferating. (Some signs in the Los Angeles Metro system are now in nine languages.)

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Florida county parks department creates river-mapping system
Courtesy of NRPA

The Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department and a local fire department have created a mapping system that assigns a specific number and letter to each part of the Chipola River. The downloadable map helps visitors plan their trips and aids first responders in rescue situations.

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Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook
Courtesy of the National Park Service

Parks and trails support community and individual well-being. Access to these resources can help increase residents’ physical activity, support mental health, and foster community and social interactions.

Parks and trails development can also benefit local environments and support community wellness. Sensitive areas such as flood plains may be protected, ecosystem services preserved, and areas prone to natural disasters shielded from development that would put people at heightened risk.

Why is a health workbook for park and trail planners needed? Explicit recognition of public health connections and goals in relation to planning efforts is not always obvious. Integrating public health concepts in planning processes can best ensure the full realization of park and trail health benefits.

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WiRe Team Launches New Videos That Pave a New Path to Fire Adaptation
Courtesy of the US Forest Service

The Wildfire Research (WiRe) Team has created a series of three short illustrative videos that outline the WiRe Team's innovative approach to helping communities adapt to wildfire.

Wildfire is a natural phenomenon, yet learning to live with wildfire is a social issue - so we need a social solution. The Wildfire Research (WiRe) Team is an interdisciplinary researcher-practitioner collaboration and for more than a decade, the WiRe Team has been refining a process to understand how each community's path to fire adaptation is unique.

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Utah Legislation Would Allow Children to Play Outside Unsupervised
Courtesy of Planetizen

By Casey Brazeal

A new law in Utah could free parents from the responsibility of keeping their children under 24-hour surveillance. The "Free Range Kids Law" would give parents the right to allow children to play outside or walk to school unsupervised.

This may seem to be an unnecessary law to those who don't follow parenting trends, but punishments can be severe for moms and dads who allow their children to exercise independence.

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Colorado’s low unemployment rate is leaving parks and rec districts short-staffed
Courtesy of the Denver Post

By Peyton Garcia

Most years, March is busy inside the hiring offices at local parks and recreation departments. There are lifeguards, summer camp leaders, dishwashers, gardeners and parks maintenance workers to hire.

This year staff members across the Denver metro area report a noticeable decrease in job candidates, leaving teams short-staffed as they head into their busiest seasons.

Nathan Mosley, director of parks and open space for unincorporated Adams County, believes he is losing potential workers to the oil and gas and construction industries. His department has upped the ante by adding a higher pay level for seasonal employees and more competitive wages for candidates who can bring certifications to the table, such as a commercial driver’s license.

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What would the ultimate child-friendly city look like?
Courtesy of the Guardian

By Laura Laker

Tim Gill, the author of No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society, says a child-friendly city is one that allows “everyday freedoms”, so a child can spread their wings as they grow.

Society’s mistake, argues Gill, is that our planning systems are geared around cars, housebuilding and the economy – rather than the environment, health and quality of life.

“You won’t find any urban planners who disagree with that,” says Gill. “It’s because our decision-makers are short-termist politicians who don’t need to look beyond the next two or three years.”

A recent report from Arup identifies five challenges for urban children: traffic and pollution; high-rise living and urban sprawl; crime, social fears and risk aversion; isolation and intolerance; and inadequate and unequal access to the city.

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Lodging Inside Retro Campers
Courtesy of Southeast Publications

Take a trip down memory lane with retro caravan style. Vintage and retro is very much on trend, so step back in time with this unusual way of exploring the United Kingdom. Across the country, there are numerous sites where you can stay in very unusual, vintage caravans, or campers as we say. With a bit of careful planning, you can virtually begin caravanning the country while also experiencing a range of different vintage caravan types from 1950’s coziness, to retro Airstreams and circus wagons.

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Why Is California Rebuilding in Fire Country? Because you’re paying for it.
Courtesy of

By Christopher Flavelle

As climate change creates warmer, drier conditions, which increase the risk of fire, California has a chance to rethink how it deals with the problem. Instead, after the state’s worst fire season on record, policymakers appear set to make the same decisions that put homeowners at risk in the first place. Driven by the demands of displaced residents, a housing shortage, and a thriving economy, local officials are issuing permits to rebuild without updating building codes. They’re even exempting residents from zoning rules so they can build bigger homes.

State officials have proposed shielding people in fire-prone areas from increased insurance premiums—potentially at the expense of homeowners elsewhere in California—in an effort to encourage them to remain in areas certain to burn again. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) spent a record $700 million on fire suppression from July to January, yet last year Governor Jerry Brown suspended the fee that people in fire-prone areas once paid to help offset those costs.

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Arizona DOT ponders paving over paradise
Courtesy of Panethos

Among the alternatives being considered by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) for future Interstate 11 (I-11) are two (2) options that would loop it west of Tucson through the stunningly gorgeous Avra Valley - home to the Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Arizona is one of the most beautiful states in the nation, but at what point does paving over paradise destroy the beauty that drew folks there in the first place? In my opinion, Phoenix is largely beyond the point of no return. Tucson, however, is an entirely different story. But, throw in another busy highway corridor west of the city and the careful balance that has been achieved between city and nature could be irreversibly harmed.

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A billionaire tests the strength of public access laws
Courtesy of the Guardian

By Julia Carrie Wong

A Silicon Valley billionaire who was ordered by California courts to restore public access to a popular surfing beach is seeking to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case could entirely upend public access to beaches in a state with more than 1,000 miles of shoreline.

Vinod Khosla, the influential technology investor and co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has been battling California regulators and environmental advocates for years over access to Martin’s Beach, a picturesque cove about 30 miles south of San Francisco that can only be reached by a private road across Khosla’s property.

Khosla has consistently lost his legal fight, thanks to California state law that regulates access to the coastline — and prioritizes public access to beaches. In August 2017, a California appeals court ordered him to restore access by unlocking the gate to the road, an order with which he has only intermittently complied.

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U.S. Forest Service Chief Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Courtesy of NPR

By Doreen McCallister

Tony Tooke, the head of the U.S. Forest Service, resigned on Wednesday following accusations of sexual harassment.

The resignation was effective immediately, and came days after PBS NewsHour reported that the U.S. Agriculture Department was investigating sexual misconduct complaints against him.

The NewsHour report revealed a widespread culture of sexual harassment and assault within the agency, and retaliation against those who reported it.

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2018 GP RED Think Tank Set for November in Orange County, CA
Courtesy of GP RED

Save the dates of November 12 – 14, 2018 to join us for our 5th GP RED National Think Tank. This gathering will be hosted by Irvine Parks and Recreation Department, in alliance with California Park and Recreation Society, Maryland Recreation and Park Association along with key sponsors. The Program Committee has been hard at work identifying themes, hot topics, and topic experts to lead the collaborative workshop sessions and discussions. Key topics coming this year will include:

- Encouraging diverse populations and equity in the outdoors.
- A fresh look at the roles of parks and recreation and education partnerships.
- Community and economic development from parks infrastructure.
- New forms of parks and park offerings, along with “on the fray” non-sanctioned park management needs.
- Advances in parks and recreation as health providers, including the evolution of park prescriptions and nature based park therapy.
- Special outdoor walks and tours in Orange County Great Park and others.
- Collaborations and networking with our related disciplines and associations.
- Culmination of intensive interactions in a special “transformation to action” workshop.

More information and the invitation to apply to attend are coming in April.


Webinar: Accessibility: Outdoor Developed Areas Final Rule
Courtesy of American Trails

Date: April 5, 2018, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm ET
Presenter: Bill Botten (US Access Board)
Cost: $19 members / $39 nonmembers

This webinar will review the scoping and technical requirements for outdoor developed areas on federal lands and highlight the best practices for facilities covered by the ADA.

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Webinar: Getting the Word Out about Accessibility of Trails and Outdoor Recreation
Courtesy of American Trails

Date: April 26, 2018, 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm ET
Presenter(s): Peter Axelson, Todd Ackerman & Samuel Schnorbus (Beneficial Designs, Inc.) & Mike Passo (American Trails)
Cost: $19 members / $39 nonmembers

This webinar will provide an introduction to Universal Access Information and how it provides people with information they need to determine whether an outdoor recreation environment meets their needs for accessibility and their desires for an achievable challenge.

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Conference: Walk Bike Places - Registration is Open
Courtesy of the Project for Public Spaces

New Orleans - September 16-19, 2018

The 20th Walk/Bike/Places in New Orleans is expected to draw 1,500+ city planners, transportation engineers, public health professionals, elected officials, community leaders, placemakers, and professional walking and bicycling advocates.

Our breakout sessions, panel discussions, and mobile workshops address the latest trends, research, and best practices. Plenary speakers bring perspectives from other disciplines, and other experiences to help improve and expand our practice.

For more information:


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Got a vacancy to fill? NACPRO will post your vacancy on our website and email a copy to our mailing list of over 1100 parks and recreation professionals for a fee of $100 for NACPRO members and $200 for non-members.


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