National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials

September 3, 2019


Ms. Rhonda Pollard
Superintendent of Recreation
Johnson County Park & Recreation District, Kansas


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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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Online database to showcase parks, recreation options in Portage
Courtesy of

By Diane Smith

OHIO - Soon, Portage County residents looking for a park, a gym, a golf course or a bowling alley will be able to consult a searchable database to find that information.

Once the program goes live, people can click on any community in Portage County and view a map of every recreational facility in that town. Clicking on each site reveals the amenities each park has and contact information, including websites. Ravenna’s page, for example, lists all the parks in both the city and within township limits, including parks run by the Portage County Park District, the city and township, and local Hot Stove baseball fields. A closer look at each of those parks tells if the park offers a pavilion, restrooms, playground equipment, baseball fields, trails or other amenities.

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Visit America’s newest adventure capital
Courtesy of National Geographic

By Stephen Starr

OHIO - Dayton has seen its fair share of ups and downs. But in recent years, the city of around 800,000 has seen a surprising—and popular—revitalization of its urban green spaces, which welcomed some 3.3 million visitors in 2018. On a per-capita basis, this makes Dayton’s parks more popular than New York’s Central Park, the United States’ most-visited.

Dayton’s urban renewal blossomed in the mid-2000s, when new leadership at Five Rivers MetroParks—the organization which oversees the city’s parks—sought to provide more active outdoor amenities. Since then, the city’s 16,000 acres of parkland have made Dayton the Midwest’s newest outdoor adventure capital.

But the park system’s extensive holdings aren’t the only reason for its success: Its impressive community involvement also sets it apart. For the past decade, Five Rivers has offered locals everything from backpacking and horticulture classes to an annual outdoor festival and license-free fishing in trout-stocked ponds. In 2018, Five Rivers programs attracted more than a quarter million participants and locals contributed nearly a million dollars’ worth of volunteer hours.

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The Economic Benefits of Metroparks Toledo
Courtesy of the Trust for Public Land

OHIO - Public park and trail systems are a valuable component of healthy communities. The Trust for Public Land conducted a study of the Metroparks Toledo, and found that it produces significant economic benefits for the local community—generating tens of millions of dollars in economic benefits each year. Metroparks Toledo enhances property values, reduces stormwater runoff, filters pollutants from the air, attracts visitors to the community, provides recreational opportunities for residents, improves community health, and boosts economic development. These amenities support local jobs, increase spending at local businesses, decrease costs, and generate local tax revenue.

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Parks Build Community 2019
Courtesy of NRPA

Each year, NRPA conducts a complete park makeover in partnership with park equipment manufacturers and community organizations in the city hosting the NRPA Annual Conference. The 2019 Parks Build Community renovation of Catherine Street Park in Baltimore, Maryland, is well underway to becoming a new space with opportunities for residents of all ages to play outside. Check out this article from the August issue of Parks & Recreation to learn more about how we are bringing play into communities with this year's project, and mark your calendar for the grand re-opening of Catherine Street Park on Sunday, September 22 at 2 p.m. ET.

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This new, high-tech public bathroom in North Hollywood cleans itself
Courtesy of

By Elizabeth Chou

CALIFORNIA - If you happen to be at the jungle gyms at North Hollywood Recreation Center when nature calls, you might want to sprint over to the Los Angeles city park system’s first self-cleaning restroom to give it a test flush.

But be forewarned. You’ll have 10 minutes to do your business before the doors slide open again. And take it easy on the toilet paper use, because the automated restroom will stop dispensing after about 10-or-so squares. Aside from that, feel free to enjoy the piano music piping out from overhead as you do what you came there to do.

The bells and whistles are part of what Los Angeles city officials said Thursday could be the wave of the future for the parks system.

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The Earth's Vegetation Stopped Expanding 20 Years Ago
Courtesy of Scientific American

By Chelsea Harvey

The world is gradually becoming less green, scientists have found. Plant growth is declining all over the planet, and new research links the phenomenon to decreasing moisture in the air—a consequence of climate change.

A recent article in the journal Science Advance says that vegetation levels started decreasing over the last 20 years. "Since then, more than half of the world’s vegetated landscapes have been experiencing a 'browning' trend, or decrease in plant growth, according to the authors," notes Harvey.

The cause is a decrease in air moisture, which climate models show will continue as global warming continues, says Harvey. "Many researchers have suggested that climate change, on the whole, is likely to be a net negative for much of the world’s vegetation, including agricultural crops. The new study would seem to suggest that those consequences are already in motion.

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Principles for Parks and Equitable Development
Courtesy of

By Sasha Forbes, AICP

There is a frustrating truth in the world of community development: new large-scale development, no matter how much it is designed to support the existing neighborhood, often displaces or alienates some longtime residents. Whether it’s a transit project, housing project or large-scale park project, the outcomes are typically the same.

Communities continue to push back and develop models for creating green space that does not come at the cost of community stability, and instead contributes to the health, well-being, and inclusivity of residents. One such example is the 11th Street Bridge Park in Washington, D.C. The crux of the project is focusing its work on workforce development, housing, small business and wealth building, and social equity. Since the vision began, 71 full time jobs have been created in historically lower income Wards 7 and 8, more than 2,500 residents have become engaged in tenants’ rights initiatives, cultural works such as the Black Love Experience featuring music and art have been supported, and more than 7,500 pounds of fresh produce have been harvested through community-driven strategies. And one lesson that the 11th Street Bridge Park has for others is to start the work of equitable development early, countering the practice to build the infrastructure and then deal with the consequences.

The Strong Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) collaboratives in Atlanta, Chicago, Memphis and Los Angeles are focusing on ways to influence the equitable development of parks and open spaces and ensure that planners, environmental groups, city officials, and developers are considering housing, community preservation, economic opportunities, culture, ownership, and racial equity as part of a holistic strategy.

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It's raining plastic: microscopic fibers fall from the sky in Rocky Mountains
Courtesy of The Guardian

COLORADO - Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Wetherbee’s mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains. “I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles,” said the US Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers.

The discovery, published in a recent study titled “It is raining plastic”, raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth.

“I think the most important result that we can share with the American public is that there’s more plastic out there than meets the eye,” said Wetherbee. “It’s in the rain, it’s in the snow. It’s a part of our environment now.”

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How Memphis, Tennessee is transforming the city through its riverfront
Courtesy of the Brookings Institute

By Carol Coletta

Memphis remains one of the nation’s poorest metropolitan areas, divided by significant racial and socioeconomic disparities. And even with new investments and a real-estate rebirth in the riverfront city, significant barriers remain for Memphians living in high-poverty, segregated, and systematically devalued neighborhoods.

Given these inequities, developers in Memphis must remember that investing in the people of Memphis means investing in a community that is 63% African American. There is no path to success for Memphis that doesn’t lift up black neighborhoods, black businesses, and black people. And building a riverfront city that works for everyone has to be more than a slogan. It’s a mandate.

The most prominent 250 acres of riverfront property are managed by the Memphis River Parks Partnership. In our role as place managers, we’re responsible for cleaning, maintaining, and activating the riverfront. But most importantly, we’re tasked with planning and building a riverfront that brings economic and social gains for all Memphians.

However, we are not an organization funded specifically to pursue equity strategies. Instead, we must integrate equity into all that we do, and we must do it within existing financial constraints. Although this can be challenging at times, it means that our equity model can be adopted by almost any organization, in any place.

The model is organized around five major pillars: staff development, contractor development, community engagement and stewardship, connecting adjacent neighborhoods, and free programming for diverse participants.

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There’s a simple way to give 20 million Americans access to parks: Let them use school playgrounds
Courtesy of Fast Company

By Adele Peters

At a public elementary school in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, a playground that used to be a barren asphalt lot is now a green space filled with plants and trees—and when school isn’t in session, it’s open to anyone in the neighborhood to use as a park.

It’s one example of a transformation happening at schools across the country, and a new report finds that it could be a good way to give people access to parks in neighborhoods where green space is lacking. The Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit that helps schools and cities create “shared-use” agreements for playground space, calculated that if all schoolyards in the U.S. were opened to the public during nonschool hours, nearly 20 million Americans who don’t currently live near parks would suddenly be a short walk from one.

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Feds Open All National Park Bike Trails to E-Bikes
Courtesy of Adventure Journal

On August 29, 2019, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ordered the National Park Service to allow motorized, pedal-assisted e-bikes on all currently approved bike trails in parks.

“E-bikes shall be allowed where other types of bicycles are allowed; and e-bikes shall not be allowed where other types of bicycles are prohibited,” said the order. You can read the official document, here.

The new policy requires public lands managers to develop proposed new rules allowing e-bikes on all trails where bikes are allowed within their jurisdiction within two weeks. Though this rule change was ordered without public input, the order asks lands managers to come up with a timeline for seeking public comment about the rule change within the next 30 days. Conservation groups immediately decried Bernhardt’s decision.

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Diamond Brand Gear Outfits First Ever Forest Service Glamping Site
Courtesy of Parks and Recreation Business

Asheville, NC – Diamond Brand Gear, an American manufacturer of outdoor gear, recently partnered with Pisgah Hospitality Partners, an Asheville-based recreation area and glamping site, to bring luxury to the outdoors. Located at Lake Powhatan Recreation Area, the Pisgah Glamping site is the first of its kind on U.S. Forest Service land.

Designed exclusively for Lake Powhatan’s sites, the 12-by-16-foot structures are large enough for a queen bed, foldable cot, bedside table and luggage rack so glampers can experience the comforts of a hotel room in the wild. There’s even enough room leftover to fit a couple of sleeping bags or an air mattress for nature-loving families or large groups.

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Lofty Ambitions for Denver's Planned Urban Trail
Courtesy of Planetizen

By James Brasuell

A new urban trail that’s taking firmer shape in Denver — at least on drawing boards — would snake through several downtown neighborhoods for more than five miles, serving as a linear park as much as a way to get around," explains Jon Murray.

Murray is also reporting that the 5280 Trail proposal seems to be picking up momentum with Denver officials and private boosters, who say the first segment of the project is ready to go to formal design. The project "could break ground along a small stretch of 21st Street in the next two years or so, and the city has committed $850,000 to get the ball rolling on designs," according to Murray.

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Work with health care providers to increase referrals to your programs

NRPA's new guide, "Increasing Referrals to Community-Based Programs and Services: An Electronic Health Record Referral Process," supports collaborative efforts between your agency and health care providers. This guide provides a four-step referral process that can be used to increase awareness of and participation in your programs and services. During the pilots in Louisiana and Colorado, more than 25% of the referred participants engaged in parks and recreation programs.

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Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion: Part 1
Courtesy of American Trails

DATE: September 18, 2019
TIME: 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Pacific Time)
COST: Free for members and non-members

This webinar is an introduction to the world of diversity and inclusion. Presented by the Avarna Group, a nationally known consulting group working with the conservation community, we begin the first of two webinars to engage stewardship groups on how to improve the openness of their organizations to others. In this webinar we define basic terms like justice, equity, diversity, inclusion, cultural competency, and cultural relevance, and then lay out all of the reasons why this work (which we collectively call JEDI) is important in the particular space in which the organization operates (e.g, outdoor education, conservation, land management, environmental advocacy, youth development etc.).

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The Nature of Trail Aesthetics
Courtesy of American Trails

DATE: October 24, 2019
TIME: 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (Pacific Time)
COST: $19 for members (Trail Professional level or higher), $39 for nonmembers

This richly illustrated webinar introduces a small yet important portion of trailshaping. Trailshaping is a system of understanding in which simple, everyday forces shape (generate) the big picture, details, and nuances of all trails and all trail types, as well as context-specific trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management. The forces integrate nature, physics, logic, and emotion within themselves, and so everything shaped by the forces also integrates nature, physics, logic, and emotion throughout the whole. Among other things, trailshaping structures and explains how well-seasoned trail experts determine what to do in any given context, i.e., how to read and use the context itself to optimize the trail within that context.

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2020 Active Living Conference

February 2-5, 2020 - Orlando, Florida

The conference brings together active living researchers and champions from over 30 disciplines to advance knowledge and action around active communities. The event is the premier venue for policy-relevant research and cross-sector exchange between scientists, practitioners and policy makers on how to create and sustain active living environments.

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Natural Resource Management Crew Seasonal Laborer
Forest Preserve District of Will County, Illinois
Posted September 3, 2019. Closes September 13, 2019.

Director of Parks, Recreation & Community Services
City of Reno, Nevada
Posted August 28, 2019. Closes October 1, 2019.

Parks Division Manager
City of San Jose, California
Posted August 21, 2019. Closes September 13, 2019.

Parks Director
County of San Mateo, California
Posted August 21, 2019. Closes September 16, 2019.

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

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