National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials

July 23, 2019


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Broward County Parks’ NRPA Presentation will be Live-streamed

By Attiyya Atkins

As part of the NRPA’s 2019 Annual Conference, September 24-26 in Baltimore, two representatives from Florida’s Broward County Parks and Recreation Division (Florida) will present “Living STEAM Laboratories: Mitigating/Adapting to Climate Change.” This lecture and interactive discussion, which couldn’t be timelier, is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 26.

Dr. John Pipoly is in charge of the new STEAM in Parks initiative at Broward County Parks, which coordinates the agency’s programming in science, technology, engineering, art, and math. Pipoly’s Ph.D. is in systematic biology, and he has published approximately 150 original research papers. He is joined by Attiyya Atkins, a Public Communications Specialist for Broward County Parks who is one of this year’s two NRPA Diversity Scholarship winners. The scholarships go to individuals from underrepresented groups in the field of parks and recreation who have made outstanding contributions serving diverse communities. Atkins, who holds a degree from the University of Florida, leads digital STEAM efforts.

The duo’s presentation, which will be live-streamed on NRPA Live, provides a blueprint on how to position parks as incubators for a new wave of environmental leaders. The discussion will emphasize the importance of using hands-on, experiential, research-based STEAM programming to engage students in environmental and climate-change issues.


Charleston parks quietly becoming leading player in SC land conservation
Courtesy of the Post and Courier

By Bo Petersen

SOUTH CAROLINA - Tom O’Rourke and the Charleston park commissioners behind him had a long lens toward preservation.

That’s why more than 11,000 acres have been conserved in Charleston County so far.

The county’s Park and Recreation Commission has become a quiet leader in preserving open space along the coast. O’Rourke is the former commission director who retired in 2017. But under his leadership the commission saw an aggressive land acquisition program take off in the early 2000s by one of the county’s least politically visible agencies.

Maybe the most striking thing about the commission’s holdings — some 60 pieces of property so far — is that protecting open land isn’t the goal; using it is.

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Michigan national park is the first to allow visitors to use a powerful 'track chair' to experience trails
Courtesy of CNN

By Michelle Lou

Trails through Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore can be steep or sandy -- but people who require hiking mobility assistance can now rent a motorized chair with treaded tracks to get around.

The fact that the chair has tracks rather than wheels makes rougher terrain much more accessible.

The program is run by volunteer group Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, which wants everyone to be able to experience the park's natural beauty. The group says the program is the first of its kind at a national park.

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What is the value of public lands?
Courtesy of Headwaters Economics

What is the economic impact of America’s public lands and waters? How can we quantify how these remarkable resources contribute to our quality of life? And how are our valuation methods and public policies changing?

This collection of essays addresses questions related to the economic impact of America’s public lands.

Written by some of the most prominent and respected scholars of public lands, these essays represent the state of the knowledge of the economics of America’s vast natural resources. The authors were selected to submit essays because they have exhibited high research standards over the course of their careers and, in many cases, have generated data-driven analyses that have impacted public policy. They offer a wealth of insight based on decades of experience.

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Public Land Ownership in the United States
Courtesy of Headwaters Economics

Nearly 40% of the United States is public land, supported by taxpayers and managed by federal, state, or local governments. The Protected Areas Database of the United States (PADUS)—managed by the U.S. Geological Survey—is America’s official inventory of protected areas and was recently updated. The map tool below provides detail for every county in the U.S. Hover over a county to see the land ownership breakdown. Detailed reports can be downloaded by clicking on a county.

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Book Review: Urban Green Spaces
Courtesy of UrbDeZine Los Angeles

By Clement Lau

Parks and other types of urban green spaces are often perceived as nice-to-haves rather than must-haves. However, as I have argued and shared in numerous articles, urban green spaces contribute significantly to the quality of life in communities and offer benefits well beyond their boundaries. For those who share this perspective or want to learn more about the relationship between parks and health equity, I suggest reading the book Urban Green Spaces – Public Health and Sustainability in the United States (2019) by Viniece Jennings, Matthew H. E. M. Browning, and Alessandro Rigolon. The intended audience for the book includes researchers, students, and practitioners in urban planning, parks and recreation, public health, and other fields. As a park planner and ‘plannerd,’ I found this book to be a page-turner and finished it in one sitting during a flight.

Urban green spaces offer a variety of health benefits and are at the nexus of environmental justice and health equity, as explained in Chapter 4. The terms equality and equity are sometimes used interchangeably as if they have the same meaning.

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Investing In Equitable Urban Park Systems: Emerging Funding Strategies and Tools
Courtesy of the City Park Alliance

Our new report, published in partnership with Urban Institute, documents equitable funding strategies for urban parks and green space with a focus on lower-income communities. The report is part of a national initiative to help cities address park equity and promote innovative strategies for funding parks and green infrastructure. This work is made possible with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

For more information:


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L.A. River planners float three design proposals for a major new park
Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

By Mimi Zeiger

CALIFORNIA - The three design schemes look totally distinct on paper and come with different names — “Island,” “Soft Edge,” “The Yards” — but they all have the same goal: restore wildlife habitat, plant people-friendly landscapes and develop flood-control strategies for a place that has been the subject of so much neglect, speculation, dreaming and debate: the L.A. River.

Some of the loudest conversations about the transformation of the 51-mile L.A. River center on Taylor Yard, what had been a greasy, soot-filled tangle of rail lines and boxcars. Throughout the 1940s and ’50s, freight trains rumbled to and from the yard named after the Taylor Mill that once stood on the site. When Southern Pacific Railroad vacated the land in the mid-1980s, the company left behind a contaminated plot along the concrete-lined waterway.

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Sensory Trail Accommodates All Abilities
Courtesy of NACo

By Rachel Looker

MARYLAND - It’s been described as a dream come true for children and adults who have disabilities.

The Schucks Road Sensory Trail, an adaptive, inclusive playground opened in Harford County, Md., in April 2018. The trail is the first of its kind in the region.

Stretching along a 1/10-mile paved path, those with disabilities of all ages can interact with 10 sensory stations outdoors. The stations include nine-foot chimes, a roller table, drums, xylophones and brightly colored panels. Each station is wheelchair accessible.

Traditional playgrounds are often over-stimulating for individuals with sensory sensitivity, which makes them inaccessible to children and adults with disabilities.

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The Value of Four Minutes
Courtesy of Parks and Rec Business

By Bill Plessinger

For a lifeguard, what happens in four minutes can have consequences that last forever. The worst-case scenario is a drowning, unseen and silent. After four minutes, a submerged child will have irreversible and permanent brain damage. The lifeguard who misses a rescue may also bear life-long scars of guilt.

On the other end of the spectrum, in four minutes a lifeguard can make a huge difference in the life of a visiting family. This happened at Westerville’s pool a couple years ago. One lifeguard—faced with the choice of going straight from one chair to another or engaging in an uncomfortable situation—chose the latter. She could have kept the blinders on, walked on by, and hoped the problem would go away on its own. She chose to do the right thing instead of just punching in and going through the motions. That choice made all the difference.

What follows is a letter I received then in the midst of one of the hottest summers on record. I have been sharing it with staff members ever since as a shining example of empathy and customer service.

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Federal Aviation Administration Expected To Finally Begin To Address National Park Overflights
Courtesy of National Parks Traveler

By Kurt Repanshek

They fly low to give passengers a better view of wildlife at Glacier and to catch one of Yellowstone's geysers in eruption, and their engine noise has intruded upon interpretation of Great Smoky Mountains' flora and fauna to hikers. Now, however, there could be some reversal in the Federal Aviation Administration's failure to respond to Congress' call in 2000 to craft plans to police air tours over the National Park System.

While the FAA has held meetings to discuss park overflights since the National Park Air Tour Management Act passed in 2000, some participants described them as a waste of time with no real concrete efforts to make the overflights safer for those in the air and quieter for those on the ground.

Now, driven by a lawsuit brought by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in 2017, the FAA and National Park Service plan on August 9 to begin work to establish mandatory air tour management plans or voluntary agreements covering...

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One year later: The new life of the old Onion Creek flood plain
Courtesy of the Austin Monitor

TEXAS - Since 1999, the city of Austin has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to buy homeowners out of the Onion Creek flood zone. Last year, when the Watershed Protection Department completed the buyout program, 813 houses had been removed out of harm’s way.

Although 10 homeowners refused the buyout offer, Leah Gibson with the Watershed Protection Department told the Environmental Commission at its July 17 meeting that the area is now transformed into 190 acres of parkland and 100 acres of recreation area, including 31 pavilions and miles of street that has either been removed or converted into trails.

Called the Onion Creek Metropolitan Park at Yarrabee Bend, the park officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 22 and the maintenance of the land will now be under the Parks and Recreation Department’s jurisdiction.

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No More 'Manholes' in Berkeley
Courtesy of Planetizen

By James Brasuell

The Berkeley City Council has given initial approval of a new ordinance that will ban the use of gendered language in the civil code, reports Patrick May. Any references to "he" or "she" in the civil code will be replaced with "they," explains May.

Most of the civil code relies on masculine terms, and the list of gendered terms that will soon be exchanged for gender neutral terms includes

Manholes, which become "maintenance holes."
Manpower, which becomes "human effort."
Manufactured, which becomes "machine-made."

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Countdown to Conference: Come Advocate with NRPA's Public Policy Team

If you're coming to the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore this September, you'll be just a hop, skip and a jump (or NRPA-provided bus ride) from Washington, D.C. Find out below how you can join us for a day on Capitol Hill and meet face-to-face with your legislators and their staff. You'll see firsthand what Capitol Hill is all about, get some photos to show off to your colleagues and friends, and most importantly, help us do our job even better by showcasing all the amazing work of park and recreation agencies.

Our team will provide everything you need, including handouts, talking points and assistance on how to translate what you need back home into a policy "ask."

Join us for this rare opportunity only available at the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference!
We hope to see you there!



NRPA Live is the virtual version of the NRPA Annual Conference that allows you to stream and participate in some of the top conference education sessions from the comfort of your own home or office. This year we are live streaming nine full education sessions and five speed sessions from the 2019 NRPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, September 24-26, 2019.

Each NRPA Live session allows for direct interaction with the speakers, continued access to the session archive and other conference-related content, and the opportunity to earn CEUs (earn up to 1.8 CEUs with the complete NRPA Live package).
Following the live event, 18 recorded sessions (each worth 0.1 CEU) and 10 speed sessions from the conference will be available starting in October 2019.

For more information:


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Webinar: Celebrating Parks and Recreation Month: Launching Efforts to Create Safe and Equitable Access to Parks
Courtesy of the Federal Lands Transportation Institute Training Newsletter

Date: July 29, 2019
Time: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET
Cost: Free
Organization: Safe Routes Partnership

Are you interested in launching efforts to improve safe and equitable access to parks in your community?

Then join this free webinar to learn how three different communities made improvements to bulb-outs, trail/bike paths, and streets using a variety of solutions, including artwork, paving, and pedestrian-activated beacon lights. The panelists will also share key planning and implementation steps, potential collaborations, funding and other resources, and sustainability ideas to help you lead your own Safe Routes to Parks-related efforts in your community.

For more information:


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Director of Aquatics
Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation, Florida
Posted July 19, 2019. Closes August 2, 2019.

Executive Director
Skokie Park District, Illinois
Posted July 18, 2019. Closes August 30, 2019.

Director of Library & Community Services
City of Sunnyvale, California
Posted July 15, 2019. Closes August 11, 2019.

Director of Parks, Recreation, and Open Space
City of Aurora, Colorado
Posted July 1, 2019. Closes July 26, 2019.

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Director
City of Raleigh, North Carolina
Posted June 5, 2019. Open until filled.


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