August 4, 2020

In This Issue...

Best Practices Forum
Member News
A Word from our Sponsors
Research and Resources
In the News
News from NRPA
Job Announcements


The National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials is a non-profit professional organization that advances official policies that promote county and regional park and recreation issues while providing members with opportunities to network, exchange ideas and best practices, and enhance professional development.

Learn more about us at:


The next issue of NACPRO News will be delivered on August 18.

If you have news or an article to share, please send it to the editor by August 17.

Brenda Adams-Weyant
(814) 927-8212
[email protected]

NACPRO's Sponsors

Pilot Rock logo

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Job Announcements

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. NACPRO membership is $90/person.

For more information:

Best Practices Forum

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.

Member News

ASLA Awards Top Medal to Tom O'Rourke
Courtesy of GP RED

The American Society of Landscape Architects has awarded one of its highest honors to Tom O’Rourke for his work over a period of 40 years in the field of parks and recreation. Tom served as the Executive Director of the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission for over 25 years - a critical period in its growth as it expanded from 5,000 acres to over 12,000 acres of diverse parks, programs and services.

Tom was elected to the Mount Pleasant Town Council in 2017 where he continues to advocate for parks, open space, trails, complete streets, and responsible growth. He currently serves as Professor of Practice at Clemson University in the Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism Management. He also is the Executive Director of the Parklands Foundation of Charleston County, a non-profit organization that provides access to parks for underserved communities in Charleston County. In addition, he is on the Board of Regents at the NRPA Revenue School, the NRPA Directors School.

The award recognizes notable contributions by individuals to the management and conservancy of natural resources and/or public landscapes. The award is presented to both a landscape professional and to a non-landscape professional. Tom is the 2020 non-landscape professional honoree.

Read more:


MetroParks offering kits to help kids explore nature
Courtesy of

By Debbie Juniewicz

Dayton, Ohio - Discover, act, share and protect. Conservation Kids do all that and have fun at the same time. But the popular Five Rivers MetroParks program has shifted gears in recent months as a result of the pandemic and is now offering program kits instead of in-person programs.

The first set of MetroParks kits are now available and run the gamut from worm observation to sewing a quilt block and fishing to farming. The Conservation Kids Discover Kit comes with a variety of tools from an aquarium net and magnifying glass to a flashlight and fossil guide. There are also videos and additional resources available. Whether it’s summer fun with the family or an enhancement to homeschooling, these kits fit the bill.

Read more:

A Word from our Sponsors

25% off Picnic Table Frame Kits in August
Courtesy of Pilot Rock

Build your own picnic table using Pilot Rock’s frame kit and you supply the material for the top & seats. Get 25% off your order of our BTXG-FR Picnic Table Frame Kit in August 2020. Use code 25OFF BTXG in the RFQ promo field to get this deal!

For more information:

Research and Resources

New compliance rules further define accessibility 
Courtesy of Parks and Recreation Business

By Tammy York

Unless you are a trail manager or an ADA-compliance supervisor, you may not know there has been a flurry of activity to address public spaces after the Department of Justice (DOJ) amended several areas of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The amendments apply to Title II, covering programs, activities and services of public entities, and Title III, covering public accommodations, commercial facilities and private entities offering specific examinations and courses.

“The amendment allows virtually any type of vehicle to be used for accessibility. When the new regulations were being vetted, no one seemed to catch on to how far-reaching this would be,” says Stuart MacDonald, National Trails Training Partnership manager for American Trails.

“Most people might have just thought it applied to Segways, and no one quite thought that this rule could mean that ATV and full-sized vehicles could be imposed as accessibility devices.”

The new compliance rules force parks and recreation officials to think about accommodating such devices on trails, which typically ban the use of motorized vehicles.

Read more:


Resources and Information Related to the Coronavirus Relief Fund
Courtesy of NACo

This resource page provides an overview of how counties across the country are distributing their Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) payments and other federal funds authorized under the CARES Act. This page will be updated as NACo receives additional information on county CRF plans. Help NACo collect county examples by taking a quick, five minute survey, which you can find below. Your county’s response will be included on this resource page.

For more information:


Let's Talk Parks Podcasts

Environmental Education and Minority Students: Unlocking the Latent Potential of Urban Parks

with Attiya Atkins - Season 2, Episode 8

Studies show that children retain more information and form a deeper connection to Nature when it is presented to them near their home as opposed to part of a field trip. In this episode, we sit down Attiyya Atkins of Broward County Parks and Rec to discuss the latent potential of urban parks and how conducting environmental education programs right in children’s backyard can have a future impact on not just conservation but climate change and environmental justice.

In this episode you’ll learn:
1. How even the most blighted park can be a source of pride for a community through environmental initiatives and programs that allow people to take pride in where they live.
2. The definition of Eco-Cognizant.
3. How you can take steps to start a similar program in your community.

Performance Management and Innovation in Park Districts

with Greg Stopka - Season 2, Episode 9

This week's episode is with Marissa Moravec and Greg Stopka, who is the Strategy and Innovation Manager for the Park District of Oak Park in Illinois. This conversation is about how local government is changing from merely providing services to solving real problems in communities through creative problem solving

In this episode, you will learn:
1. How real-time data helps make real-time decisions
2. How the Park District uses innovation to engage every employee in improving their daily work
3. How to engage the community with data

Listen here:


Visitor Sentiment: Late Summer and Early Fall Considerations
Courtesy of CHM Government Services

By Margaret Bailey

As public agency budgets continue to tighten and managers make future resource allocation decisions, it is important to have insight into visitor sentiment regarding parks as leisure travel destinations in the near future.

In our June 23 Blog, CHMGS reported about a variety of publicly-available sources that survey visitors regarding their intent to travel. CHMGS is now tracking both Destination Analyst and MMGY Travel Intelligence weekly travel survey reports to understand emerging trends, since they are continually changing. CHMGS looked at four questions from the Destination Analyst’s research:

Expectations for Traveling in the Fall: Over 41% of those surveyed said that they were unsure about traveling in the fall. This is the highest level of concern for future travel reported since late March.

Perceived safety of trips that would occur within public land settings: Camping (48.9%), RV Parks (45.5%), and Beach (31.2%) settings remain the top three trip types for perceived safety.

Lodging type used when traveling: Campgrounds or RV Park (21%) continue to trend highest along with peer-to-peer lodging (22%). Hotels (16-18%) continue to rank the lowest among lodging choices.

Intent to Visit Public Land Locations: Over the course of the last six months, shifts have occurred in locations individuals intend to travel. National parks (35% to 37%), state parks, and regional parks (31% to 38%) are increasingly of interest. This has come at the expense of locations such as cities and theme parks.

What this means for public agencies...

Read more:


Outdoor Fitness Options for the Entire Family
Courtesy of PlayCore

Outdoor fitness provides an opportunity for communities in a community to enjoy a shared space, recreate, and stay healthy in their own time and at their own pace. Our teams at PlayCore have years of experience in designing and providing equipment for a well-rounded workout as well as custom designs for a unique experience.

Planning is a critical step in selecting an inclusive outdoor fitness space. These spaces can be configured to meet any budget, and width the wealth of options available, the most important thing is to meet with the community, discover their goals for the space, understand who the users might be, then take the available budget and design an environment that meets these criteria. Because user groups are as diverse as the range of outdoor adult fitness equipment, understanding the priorities of the former can help inform choices for the latter, and ensure that an outdoor adult fitness area is meaningful. Outdoor fitness spaces see the highest use when users have a range of reasons to be here.

By adding active elements so that athletes are engaged, alongside casual trainers, parents, the active aging population, deconditioned users and even families, you can ensure the space will get the highest use possible.

Read more:


Collaborating with Latinx Organizations and Communities
Courtesy of the National Park Service

Though the annual, Latino Conservation Week, just wrapped up - conservation efforts continue in Latinx communities across the United States.

Latinx organizations invite National Park Service – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program staff to partner with communities year-round to make their conservation and outdoor recreation visions a reality.

Learn how we work with communities and organizations to create equitable access to the outdoors in our hot-off-the-press publication.

Read more:


Confronting Substance Use Disorder
Courtesy of NRPA

By Lauren Kiefert

In spring 2019, NRPA created a Community of Practice (CoP) specifically addressing substance use disorder (SUD), with a focus on opioids. The CoP concentrated on two main aspects of substance use: prevention and operations/safety. The prevention component facilitated conversations and learning opportunities for park and recreation professionals on conducting staff training, identifying risk factors, building protective factors, understanding adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), recognizing signs of SUD and addressing associated stigmas. The operations/safety side examined park maintenance, staff safety, sharps and drug paraphernalia cleanup, partnerships with law enforcement and public health agents, and response to overdose situations on managed properties.

The report, titled Parks and Recreation: A Comprehensive Response to the Substance Use Crisis, draws on lessons learned through the CoP, data collected from agencies across the country, and recommendations from leading public health organizations and the federal government. It provides response strategies and recommendations for park and recreation professionals. The report highlights a variety of tactics and levels of response that focus on prevention, operations and maintenance, public safety, community education, partnership building, staff training, development and more. Strategies are rooted in evidence-based best practices and solutions.

Read more:


Survey - the Status of Educational Needs for Parks, Recreation and Related Professionals
Courtesy of GP RED

GP RED requests that you take some of your valuable time to respond to this survey on the educational needs for Parks, Recreation and related professionals. This study is gathering information on the preferred educational qualifications needed by employees in our industry to best meet long-term needs. We also want input from educators, allied professionals in different fields, and anyone who cares about parks and recreation service in our communities.

The study is supported by GP RED ( and our State of Education Initiative committee of volunteers, educators, and practitioners, hosted and analyzed by RRC Associates. All responses are anonymous and will only be reported together with responses from others.

Access the survey:


COVID-19 Legislative State and Federal Reports 
Courtesy of PolicyEngage

The reports below include all state and federal bills and resolutions referencing COVID-19, coronavirus, or pandemic, as of August 3, 2020.

Cumulative State Legislative Report

Cumulative Federal Legislative Report

Major Enacted State and Federal Legislative Action Center

In the News

Pandemic underscores how public parks shape public health
Courtesy of the Washington Post

By Christopher Ingraham

For years, public health experts have urged people to spend more time outdoors for the nourishment of their minds, bodies and souls.

Those recommendations have taken on a new urgency this year as the nation grapples with a pandemic that seems to be especially virulent in crowded indoor spaces. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now lists visiting parks and recreational facilities — particularly those “parks that are close to your home” — as a way to protect yourself and others from covid-19.

But for tens of millions of Americans, that’s easier said than done; according to the Trust for Public Land (TPL), a nonprofit group that works to protect parks and other outdoor public spaces, roughly 100 million Americans don’t have a public park within a 10-minute walk of their home.

Read more:


LWCF Fully and Permanently Funded
Courtesy of NRPA

After many years of your calls, letters, emails, hill visits and social media posts, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act. And today, the President signed it into law. We have finally secured full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — the largest source of federal dollars that supports federal lands as well as local parks and recreation.

While we celebrate, we continue to press forward. Our job is not complete. We must continue to build upon the momentum of this historic passage to advocate for and mobilize our grassroots efforts to ensure a fair portion of LWCF funding goes towards the stateside assistance program — the portion that funds local park and recreation projects. We need your support to fight for this and other critical federal programs that support parks and recreation.

Read more:


Parks Aren’t Public Unless Black Kids Belong
Courtesy of NRPA

By Sianna Simmons-Afari

Where are Black kids truly safe? How do I reconcile the ideals I work toward with the realities of a society steeped in structural and institutional racism?

As a professional at KABOOM!, a nonprofit that works to end playspace inequity, I think about Black and brown kids and their safe access to parks every single day. Our work is about creating equitable access to playspaces: in schoolyards, parks and other spaces that we believe are for the benefit of everyone.

As a Black woman in America, this experience filled me with rage and hopeless terror for the safety of all the Black men in my life. I think about the filters society places on the Black man, contorting his image until it’s dangerously distorted. I imagine how still they must stand, how quiet they must keep, how careful they must walk to keep within the impossibly narrow line of safety. I think about the crushing weight they hold, the burden of disarming society of their perceptions of danger. This survival routine folds Black men into an oppressive box that denies the truth of their humanity — and it steals their joy.

Read more:


Great Lakes water temperatures are blowing away records and could climb higher
Courtesy of Washington Post

By Jason Samenow

You don’t expect to see 75- or even 80-degree water in the Great Lakes in early July or, in most years, anytime. But an exceptionally hot weather pattern has pushed water temperatures in most of the lakes to the highest levels on record so early in the summer. Over lakes Erie and Ontario, the water is the warmest it has been since records began being kept, and could warm more in the coming weeks.

The abnormally warm waters, consistent with climate-change trends in recent decades, could compromise water quality and harm marine life in some areas.

Surface water temperatures averaged over all of the Great Lakes, except the deep and choppy Lake Superior, have risen well into the 70s while Lake Erie has flirted with 80 degrees. That’s about the same water temperature as the surf off Virginia Beach.

Read more:


Record-high Michigan water levels are a nightmare for homeowners, state
Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press

By Keith Matheny

Though the high water that was coming in 2020 could be seen as far back as last fall, when the typical annual receding never happened, and many were better prepared for what was coming than last year, high water impacts this spring and summer have been just as widespread and severe as 2019, if not worse, officials with three state agencies told the Free Press. Lake elevation records continue to be broken, a trend that will continue at least on connected lakes Michigan and Huron into fall.

For the state and local governments dealing with flooded or crumbling roads, parks and other infrastructure, as well as beleaguered home and business owners, it's a search for opportunities — and the money — to fix the damage, prevent further deterioration and a need to figure out whether this is the new, longer-term normal, which will require much more expensive adjustments.

Read more:


Need a break? Take a short walk to a park.
Courtesy of Planning Magazine

By Clement Lau, AICP

Think about a short walk around your neighborhood. Does it include a park? It should. The “10-Minute Walk Campaign” is a nationwide movement to ensure that everyone has safe access to a quality park or green space within 10 minutes of home. It is rooted in the belief that parks are essential to the physical, social, environmental, and economic health of a community, and the movement seeks to improve park access through local policy changes, master planning efforts, and increased funding opportunities. The program was established in 2017 by the National Recreation and Park Association, the Trust for Public Land, and the Urban Land Institute.

The Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), a campaign member, is working to advance park access and equity. Its Woodcrest Play Park opened to the public in late 2019.

Read more:


Firewood vending machine? This Washington state park has one.
Courtesy of

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Wash. — A vending machine that dispenses firewood? A man in San Juan County is making it possible.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission posted a photo on its Facebook this week saying Russ Harvey of Dancing Tree Farms and Services on Orcas Island has developed a firewood vending machine.

The Parks and Recreation Commission said something like this could be a game-changer for campers during the coronavirus pandemic while people are trying to maintain their social distance.

Read more:

News from NRPA

Registration for NRPA Virtual Conference Is Now Open

October 27-29, 2020

The NRPA Annual Conference has always been the largest gathering of park and recreation professionals in the world, and this year we'll make history for the largest virtual gathering of park and recreation professionals in the world. NRPA Virtual will feature thought-provoking keynote speakers, more than 70 education sessions, an exploration-worthy virtual exhibit hall, and plenty of unique ways to network and connect with peers from across the country. We look forward to having you join us for this virtual event! Learn more and register.

For more information:


Introducing NRPA's 2021-2023 Strategic Plan

We are thrilled to share that NRPA's 2021-2023 Strategic Plan is now available. This document outlines where we look to take the association and the field over the next three years. While this plan has been a year in the making, our strategic goals now have a new urgency and passion behind them -- we want the world to know what we already do: parks and recreation is essential. We invite you to review our strategic plan and hope that you will clearly see yourself in it. We cannot accomplish these goals on our own, and when we are successful, our communities will be healthy, equitable and thriving -- and the people of parks and recreation will be recognized for their role in making that happen.

Read more:


Webinar: Maximizing Earned Income and Managing Visitor Expectations in Outdoor Recreation

Date: August 12, 2020
Time: 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm ET
Cost: Free
Organization: Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP)

The pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges in managing parks and outdoor recreation facilities for visitor use. Please join our esteemed panel for a discussion around maximizing earned income and managing visitor expectations. We'll dive into recent visitor patterns and consumer travel preferences. The discussion will cover operations planning for consistent service quality, safety, sanitation, and sustainability, and opportunities for generating new revenues to offset budget reductions.

For more information:


Webinar: Balancing Recreational Area Use with Homelessness and Vagrancy

Date: August 13, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm ET
Cost: Free
Organization: American Trails

Have a challenge with homelessness and vagrancy in your parks and trails? Want to hear from local officials in Modesto about how they are attempting to tackle this challenge?

The City of Modesto Staff will share how they have responded to the recent ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that stated that criminally punishing homeless individuals when there are not enough shelter beds or housing constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This ruling changed enforcement methods of illegal camping for local law enforcement agencies.

In this session you will hear the successes and lessons learned from a temporary solution to house people experiencing homelessness in a local park. How this led to a declaration of emergency to address homelessness, a temporary outdoor shelter in the Tuolumne River Regional Park (TRRP) and a multi-agency effort to address the many reasons for homelessness learned through these steps.

For more information:


2020 National Outdoor Recreation Conference

Date: September 14 - October 23, 2020
Location: Online
Organization: Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP)

The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) is excited to announce the 2020 Virtual National Outdoor Recreation Conference (NORC). As you have likely heard, SORP and our conference partners at Tennessee State Parks recently made the difficult decision to cancel the planned in-person NORC in Knoxville, TN. While we share your disappointment, we are pleased to host a virtual version of our conference. The 2020 Virtual NORC will be made up of live (virtual) sessions, online content, networking sessions, and other opportunities to share and learn from other outdoor recreation practitioners.

The 2020 Virtual NORC will run for 6 weeks from September 14 through October 23, 2020 with most virtual content scheduled every Wednesday during three time periods:

• Block 1: 9:00 to 10:15 am PDT
• Block 2: 11:00 am to 12:15 pm PDT
• Block 3: 1:00 to 2:00 pm PDT

We are also scheduling additional learning and networking sessions throughout the 6-week period. Additionally, all conference content will be available on demand via the conference website if you're unable to join the live sessions.

For more information:

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