National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials

July 9, 2019


Kirk Kincannon, Executive Director
Fairfax County Park Authority, Virginia

Sara Baldwin, Deputy Director
Fairfax County Park Authority, Virginia

Aimee Vosper, Deputy Director
Fairfax County Park Authority, Virginia


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Thanks from Maricopa County

When we reached out through the Best Practices Forum for Park System Master Plan samples we got a lot of great responses! Our new system plan will be a better document and implementation tool thanks to the feedback from NACPRO members!!

RJ Cardin, Director

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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Congratulations Gold Medal Finalists
Courtesy of NRPA

The American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA), in partnership with NRPA, is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2019 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.

NACPRO Member Agency finalists:

- East Baton Rouge Recreation & Park Commission (BREC) - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Fairfax County Park Authority - Fairfax, Virginia

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Kenneth J. Smithee: A Life Dedicated to Parks and Recreation
Courtesy of NRPA

By Lindsay Collins

Kenneth J. Smithee, dedicated park professional and ardent conservationist, died April 12, 2019, at the age of 91 in Glendale, Arizona. Throughout his career, Smithee was crucial to the growth and development of many park systems. As director of Arizona’s Maricopa County Parks Department (1957–1965), he grew the agency’s park footprint to 93,000 acres. “Residents of [Maricopa] County owe Ken a huge debt of gratitude for the legacy he left,” says R.J. Cardin, director of Maricopa County Parks and Recreation. “His great efforts of defining and expanding our regional park system is truly exceptional. Our residents enjoy one of the largest regional park systems in the country thanks to Ken’s vision and dedication.”

[Editor’s note: Ken Smithee served on the NACPRO board of directors for more than 10 years in the 1970s and 80s. We mourn his loss and are grateful for his service to NACPRO.]

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County hires new directors for planning, parks and rec
Courtesy of

By Tim Hrenchir

KANSAS - The Shawnee County Commission hired replacements Thursday for two men who spent a combined total of more than 34 years running county departments.

Commissioners Bob Archer, Bill Riphahn and Kevin Cook voted 3-0 to appoint Angleton, Texas, deputy city manager Randal S. “Randy” Anderson as Shawnee County planning director at an annual salary of $85,000 to replace Barry Beagle, who resigned last December after 15 years in that job.

They also voted 3-0 to appoint Tim Laurent as parks and recreation director effective Monday at an annual salary of $94,570.06 to replace John Knight, whose last day will be Sunday after more than 19 years as parks and recreation director.

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Can parks help cities fight crime?
Courtesy of

By Lincoln Larson and S. Scott Ogletree

The relationship between parks and crime remains the subject of debate.

Some scholars say parks and other urban green spaces prevent violence. When vacant lots and deteriorating urban spaces are transformed into more appealing and useful places for residents, violence and crime typically decline in the immediate vicinity.

In a study of public housing developments in Chicago, researchers found 52% fewer crimes reported near buildings surrounded by trees and other vegetation. In New York City, neighborhoods with higher investment in public green space see an average of 213 fewer felonies per year.

In many cities, however, people see parks as dangerous – magnets for illicit activities like drug dealing and places for criminals to access potential victims who, while engaged in recreation, may be less vigilant about their belongings and personal safety.

So do parks make cities safer or more dangerous? The short answer is: It depends on the park.

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National Trail Surfaces Study
Courtesy of American Trails

Trails provide opportunities for people to connect with the natural environment in a variety of settings and are places for all individuals, including people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities have the same desire to explore nature and physical barriers such as inaccessible surfaces and routes can hamper or even prevent opportunities to participate in the outdoor leisure experience for people with a disability. The purpose of the longitudinal surface study was to evaluate a variety of trail surface materials, and their ability to meet proposed accessibility requirements of firmness and stability from initial installation and maintenance over 51 months.

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Effective Trail Rehabilitation is Possible in the Desert
Courtesy of NOHVCC

By Duane Taylor

“You can’t close a trail in the desert.” This is something that NOHVCC staff hears quite often. The desert environment features drastically different terrain from other less arid areas. The desert environment is far more open and many of the naturally occurring features such as sagebrush are less effective at truly preventing OHVs from accessing the trail.

While visiting the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area in Colorado as part of a Great Trails Workshop, NOHVCC witnessed first-hand an effective trail rehabilitation in the desert.

How has Hartman Rocks Recreation Area achieved successful trail reclamation in this particular instance where others have failed in similar circumstances? Quite simply the success started well before the actual on-the-ground work. The managers of Hartman Rocks effectively communicated with the local riding public who understands the need for this route to be taken off the system. Probably the best management tool used in this situation is that a replacement route was opened before closure of the old non-sustainable route. Also, Hartman Rocks features an abundance of similar trails that meet users’ needs, and the managers are actively seeking more and more varied riding opportunities in the Area.

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Historical Weather Condition Data Offers an Information Goldmine
Courtesy of Parks and Recreation Business

By Glen Denny

Historical weather conditions can be used for a variety of purposes, including simulation exercises for staff training; proactive emergency weather planning; and proving (or disproving) hazardous conditions for insurance claims. Baron Historical Weather Data, an optional collection of archived weather data for Baron Threat Net, lets users extract and view weather data from up to 8 years of archived radar, hail and tornado detection, and flooding data. Depending upon the user’s needs, the weather data can be configured with access to a window of either 30 days or 365 days of historical access.

Historical weather data is a great tool to use for conducting realistic severe weather simulations during drills and training exercises. For example, using historical lightning information may assist in training school personnel on what conditions look like when it is time to enact their lightning safety plan.

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Fostering Health and Wellness through Shared Use Facilities
Courtesy of NRPA

By Clement Lau

Los Angeles County residents need more parks and recreational facilities in which to play and exercise. This is clear based on data from the 2016 Countywide Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment, which revealed that nearly 53 percent of L.A. County’s 10 million residents live in areas with high to very high park need. The report also points out that due to a lack of vacant land, local agencies must pursue innovative solutions and creative partnerships, such as joint use and reuse of schools and other public facilities, to expand park opportunities and meet the needs of communities, especially those that are underserved.

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DNR: invasive ‘frankenfish’ population growing in Maryland
Courtesy of the River Management Society

By Chris Montcalmo

MARYLAND – A partnership overseeing fish passage at the Conowingo Dam reports that 81 northern snakeheads were caught in the dam’s fish lift this spring, a dramatic increase after only one snakehead was found there the past two years.

While all known snakeheads were stopped and dispatched before reaching the dam’s reservoir, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and its partners warn of a possible northern expansion by the aggressively invasive species into the Susquehanna River

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Keep America Beautiful 'Cigarette Litter Prevention Program'
Courtesy of NRPA

By Jerred Jones

Keep America Beautiful®, the nation’s leading community improvement nonprofit organization, has taken aim at aggressively reducing cigarette litter and beautifying communities through its Cigarette Litter Prevention Program® (CLPP), which launched in 2002.

According to “Litter in America,” the Keep America Beautiful landmark national study of litter costs and littering behavior, 38 percent of cigarette litter is associated with the physical environment, including the number of ash receptacles. The presence of ash receptacles correlates with lower rates of cigarette butt littering. Keep America Beautiful is working with its more than 600 community-based affiliates and partnering organizations to install 10,000 ash and cigarette butt receptacles, or litter stands, across the nation in high-traffic areas, such as park and recreation settings.

As of May 2019, nearly half of the installation goal has been met. However, park and recreation directors can still request up to 100 free durable-quality litter stands for their community simply by contacting Keep America Beautiful ([email protected]).

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The Cuyahoga River Caught Fire at Least a Dozen Times, but No One Cared Until 1969
Courtesy of Smithsonian Magazine

By Lorraine Boissoneault

OHIO - It was the summer of 1969, and recent high school graduate Tim Donovan needed a job to pay his college tuition. When it came to well-paid summer work in Cleveland, there was one good place to look: the steel mills. Donovan went to work as a hatch tender for Jones & Laughlin Steel, standing at the top of machines stationed along the river to help unload ore carriers. It was his first real interaction with the Cuyahoga River, and the experience didn’t endear him to it.

“The river was a scary little thing,” Donovan says. “There was a general rule that if you fell in, God forbid, you would go immediately to the hospital.”

The water was nearly always covered in oil slicks, and it bubbled like a deadly stew. Sometimes rats floated by, their corpses so bloated they were practically the size of dogs. It was disturbing, but it was also just one of the realities of the city. For more than a century, the Cuyahoga River had been prime real estate for various manufacturing companies. Everyone knew it was polluted, but pollution meant industry was thriving, the economy was booming, and everyone had jobs.

Time magazine published an article on the fire—with an accompanying photo from an incident in 1952. National Geographic featured the river in their December 1970 cover story “Our Ecological Crisis”. Congress established the Environmental Protection Agency in January 1970, for the first time creating a federal bureau to oversee pollution regulations. In April 1970, Donovan was one of 1,000 students marching down to the river for the country’s first Earth Day. The nation, it seemed, had suddenly woken up to the realities of industrial pollution, and the Cuyahoga River was the symbol of calamity.

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Also check out this great photo essay:


Hit by a Tourist Boom, Cities Wonder When to Stop Self-Promotion
Courtesy of City Lab

By Molly McCluskey

VANCOUVER, B.C.—It’s early morning when the first cruise liner of the day approaches Vancouver’s waterfront. The vessel is one of more than 230 similar ships that will dock here this year, adding its passengers to the stream of 10 million overnight guests that the Western Canada city will host this year.

From now until the end of the summer season, Vancouver will be at 95 percent tourism capacity, according to Gwendal Castellan, manager of Sustainable Destination Development at Tourism Vancouver. That is presenting him and his colleagues with a once-unthinkable challenge: Do they just stop promoting the city?

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Twenty Years of Dam Removal Successes – And What’s up Next
Courtesy of American Rivers

By Amy Souers Kober

Twenty years ago, the annual run of alewives (a migratory fish essential to the marine food web) up Maine’s Kennebec River was zero. Today, it’s five million — thanks to the removal of Edwards Dam and additional restoration measures upstream. The Kennebec and its web of life have rebounded in many ways since Edwards Dam came down in 1999.

The removal of Edwards Dam was significant because it was the first time the federal government ordered a dam removed because its costs outweighed its benefits. The restoration of the Kennebec sparked a movement for free-flowing rivers in the U.S. and around the world.

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The hunt to find just one square inch of silence
Courtesy of

By Chris Morgan and Matt Martin

Gordon Hempton’s office is at the top of a creaky set of stairs of an old building in Port Townsend, a small town on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. The title on his door reads “The Sound Tracker.”

He’s a larger than life man who likes a little peace and quiet. More accurately, he’s obsessed with it. Over four decades, he’s dedicated his life in search of natural silence – places devoid of human cacophony.

Hempton and Mikkelson have rules for what qualifies a quiet place: free of noise pollution for 15 minutes in the time period between an hour before sunrise and two hours after sunset. Hempton said only about a dozen places in the lower 48 meet that standard.

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My Quixotic Quest for Quiet in New York City
Courtesy of City Lab

By John Surico

The corner of Canal and Hudson Street at rush hour may be the loudest place in New York City. That’s when the daily share of its 1.26 million monthly vehicles—1.2 million cars, nearly 13,000 buses, and close to 85,000 trucks, as of March—slug through the Holland Tunnel, spilling out onto tight Manhattan corridors built for traffic half the size. Mix that honking, yelling, clattering, and rumbling with the din of constant construction and infrastructure upgrades, and voilà, you have one noisy mess.

This seemed like a good spot to take a noise survey, which is what I was doing, on Hush City, an open-source app that seeks to map out the quiet (and not-so-quiet) corners of cities worldwide. I wanted to see if I could find one here, of all places.

The idea behind Hush City is that users can log on to find out where to seek refuge from the blare of urban living. It’s Yelp, but for serenity.

The World Health Organization has designated urban noise a serious environmental stressor and public health risk. It’s correlated with insomnia, cognitive and hearing impairments, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and depression. And, like so many other pollutants, its ill effects tend to be concentrated on low-income residents.

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Denver capturing, killing geese to feed families in need
Courtesy of

By Evan Kruegel

COLORADO — For a number of years, Denver Parks and Recreation has struggled to manage a growing goose population.

They've tried scaring the geese away, even coating their eggs in cooking oil to prevent fertilization. Now, they're trying something new: catching the geese with help from the United States Department of Agriculture, and shipping them off to be "processed."

The geese, said Scott Gilmore, deputy executive director of Denver Parks and Recreation, are being collected now because at this time of year they can't fly. Then, they are taken to a processor.

"And they are getting processed, and they're getting donated to needy families," Gilmore said.

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Policies to Boost State Outdoor Recreation Economies
Courtesy of the Center for American Progress

By Jenny Rowland-Shea

In many ways, states are leading the way in implementing creative policies to support outdoor recreation. In particular, they are utilizing a new tool to expand and support this industry: offices of outdoor recreation. In 2013, Utah created an official role in the state government for outdoor recreation, and since, at least 12 states have followed suit. Several additional states are currently considering legislation to do the same.

This report details the importance of conservation and equity as the basis of a strong outdoor economy and offers a menu of policy ideas that states can adopt to embrace the benefits of supporting a thriving outdoor recreation economy. While not every recommendation can be executed by offices of outdoor recreation alone, these offices should play an important role in advocating and finding support for these objectives.

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NRPA Park Check: Parks & Recreation Quality Risk Assessment

Does your agency have the financial and staffing support necessary to deliver high-quality services to everyone in your community? NRPA Park Check is an online resource to help you evaluate the potential threat your agency may be facing in its ability to continue serving all members of your community in the future. NRPA Park Check uses your responses to eight questions to determine your agency's risk profile and sends you a custom report to help inform your agency director, political leaders and park advocates about how your agency rates and how to make any needed improvements.

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Creating Equitable Access to Parks and Recreation

Parks and recreation centers are the cornerstones of our neighborhoods; they bring communities together. So, shouldn't the community have a stake in the development and long-term success of these public spaces? NRPA developed the Community Engagement Resource Guide: Creating Equitable Access to High-Performing Parks to give you the tools to facilitate an inclusive and meaningful engagement process, ensuring that your parks and public spaces are created by the people they are intended to serve.

For more information:


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Deferred maintenance backlog causing concern to counties

By Rachel Looker

Counties are urging Congress to enact legislation to address the deferred maintenance backlog and the deteriorating state of infrastructure on federal public lands. In fiscal year 2018, the deferred maintenance backlog was estimated at $19.4 billion, which primarily impacts roads, trails, bridges and visitor centers.

Coconino County, Ariz. Supervisor Elizabeth Archuleta testified June 18 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources about her concerns over deferred maintenance needs and possible solutions.

Coconino County is home to many public lands such as the Grand Canyon National Park, she explained.

The county’s economy relies on tourism and recreation surrounding the land. With 62 percent of counties nationwide having federal land within their boundaries, federal policies impact the well-being of local communities, she said.

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Webinar: Social Media + Trails: Growing and Engaging Your Followers
Courtesy of American Trails

Date: July 18, 2019
Time: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET
Cost: $19 members/$39 non-members
Organization: American Trails

Social media can be a powerful marketing tool for trails, giving us the ability to reach people by the thousands, fundraise, engage, and show the value of trails. On the flip side, social media can also lead to problems - such as trail users engaging in dangerous behavior for "photo opportunities." In this webinar we will hear from three experts on how they manage their social media platforms to reach tens of thousands of followers, best practices for using social media, and the potential pitfalls to look out for in the social media era.

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PlacesForBikes Workshop
Courtesy of the Federal Lands Transportation Institute Training Newsletter

Date: August 1, 2019
Location: Bentonville, AR
Organization: PeopleForBikes

PeopleForBikes is proud to announce the PlacesForBikes Workshops - a series of helpful, inspirational single-day training events for city leaders working to improve bicycling in their communities. Each workshop will feature inspiring speakers, panel discussions, group conversations, and peer-to-peer networking.

For more information:

2019 National Coastal Conference
Courtesy of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association

“Where Coasts and Rivers Meet”

October 22-25, 2019 - Myrtle Beach, SC

Poster abstracts now being accepted until September 6, 2019.

It’s the best coastal conference for scientists and engineers, researchers and practitioners.

Almost 200 speakers, dedicated sessions and program tracks on Flooding, Storms & Resilience and Modeling & Tools mean that you can find just the content you want. Conference registration is now open, and there is an array of sponsorships available to those interested in reaching the 350+ attendees.

For more information:


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Maintenance & Construction Supervisor
Whatcom County Parks & Recreation, Washington
Posted July 8, 2019. Closes July 23, 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.

Parks and Recreation Director
City of Banning, California
Posted June 5, 2019. Closes July 19, 2019.

Parks Director
Tulsa County Parks, Oklahoma
Posted May 15, 2019. Open until filled.


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