September 1, 2020

In This Issue...

Best Practices Forum
Member News
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 September 15, 2020.

If you have news or an article to share, please send it to the editor by September 14.

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

NACPRO's Sponsors

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Job Announcements

Director of Parks and Recreation
Chesterfield County
Chesterfield, Virginia
Salary: Depends on qualifications
Closing date: Sep 2, 2020

Division Manager (Recreation/Chief Financial Officer)
City of Cincinnati, Recreation Commission
Cincinnati, Ohio
Salary: $87,127 - $120,914 Annually
Closing date: Sep 21, 2020

Recreation Director
Upson County
Thomaston, Georgia
Salary: $60,000 - $70,000 Annually
Closing date: Sep 22, 2020

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

NRPA Life Trustee Eugene Young Passes Away
Courtesy of NRPA

Editor's Note: Gene Young also served NACPRO as a board member and President in the 1980's.

NRPA and the park and recreation community are mourning the loss of Eugene A. Young, who passed away on July 20, 2020. Young devoted much of his career and life to the profession of parks and recreation. From a summer camp counselor to the longest-serving superintendent in East Baton Rouge Parish history, he spent 57 years working to make life better through parks and recreation.

Young joined the Recreation and Park Commission for East Baton Rouge Parish (BREC) in Louisiana as assistant superintendent in 1952. When he took over as superintendent eight years later, the agency was nearly broke; however, the budget-minded leader gradually turned things around. During his tenure from 1960 to 2003, Young led successful campaigns for tax elections to hire staff and purchase land while also accepting any donation of land, labor or supplies offered to BREC. As a result of Young’s efforts, BREC has grown in every area and has recorded a financial surplus at the end of each year. Park attendance rose from less than 2 million to more than 9 million visitors per year under his leadership. In addition, more than $5.5 million in land was donated to BREC throughout his tenure as superintendent.

Read more:


Stark Parks Mindfulness Walk offers a mental-health breather for those who need it
Courtesy of Parks and Recreation Business

By Caitlin McCully

OHIO - The benefits of spending time outdoors have long been documented by writers and naturalists. Henry David Thoreau once said, “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day,” and in the wise words of John Muir, “In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” While those in the mental-health field stress the importance of taking a break from sitting too long, increasing activity, acquiring a number of steps in a day, and taking timeouts from projects and tasks, still, anxiety, depression, and addiction are a reality for many in this stressful, technology-filled world.

Although Stark County, Ohio, is home to dozens of parks, more than 120 miles of trails, and public-gathering places, no space had yet been dedicated to mental health and guided reflection. Partnering with the Stark Mental Health and Addiction Recovery agency (Stark MHAR), Stark Parks set out to create a space at Petros Lake Park designated for meditation and self-care. From here, the concept of the Mindfulness Walk originated.

Read more:

Research and Resources

Parks in Nonwhite Areas Are Half the Size of Ones in Majority-White Areas, Study Says
Courtesy of NPR

In the midst of another hot summer and an ongoing pandemic, public parks are vital refuge. But a new study has found that access to parks in the U.S. differs sharply according to income and race.

A study published by The Trust for Public Land found that parks serving primarily nonwhite populations are, on average, half the size of parks that serve majority-white populations, and are potentially five times more crowded.

The new data adds to what other studies have found about heat and economic and racial disparities. Last year, an investigation by NPR and the University of Maryland's Howard Center for Investigative Journalism found that in dozens of major U.S. cities, low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be hotter than their wealthier counterparts.

Read more:


School's Out: new report explores the benefits of taking learning outside
Courtesy of the Trust for Public Land

As families count down to the first day of school, one thing is for certain: the 2020-2021 school year will be unlike any other in our collective lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has put educators and school administrators between a rock and a hard place: bring kids back to the classroom, where experts say that all will be at high risk of virus transmission, or continue with distance learning, which experts agree compromises educational outcomes and accelerates inequality.

For more information:


Park District offering in-person ’classes’ for students
Courtesy of the Tuscaloosa News

By Jason Morton

ALABAMA - With classrooms going virtual for the foreseeable future, the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority is giving parents another option besides sitting at home.

PARA is offering what it calls “Active Classrooms” to Tuscaloosa city and county school students in kindergarten-eighth grade during the virtual school year.

According to PARA, these classrooms will provide a daily schedule, including remote learning support time, physical activity, recess, group games, enrichment and arts and crafts, among others.

Read more:


Ready For a Parks Advisory Board?
Courtesy of PlayCore

Parks and Rec Advisory Boards are groups of volunteer citizens who work to further park and recreation initiatives in a community, and can serve a variety of helpful and necessary roles to help your organization implement your vision. Often, parks departments have a variety of important initiatives they wish to undertake, but may need help executing the strategies needed.

Park Advisory Boards can help create citizen involvement opportunities that assist in these endeavors and build leadership skills. Unless specifically given policy making authority, their role is to provide valuable input and play an important role in making recommendations to guide the determining, implementing and gaining financial support for recreation and parks services. They can help in a variety of meaningful ways, including...

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Leveraging Public-Private Partnerships
Courtesy of NRPA

By Gordon Feller

This global health crisis will likely be defined by our response to it. Do we adapt, come together and innovate to create a new and brighter future? That’s how the Great Depression and World War II led to the birth of one of the greatest middle classes in the history of the world.

To ensure that our parks truly succeed, how can public agencies and private companies collaborate with one another — and with the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that stand ready to participate? What are the ingredients for success with such park partnerships?

These are the two questions at the heart of recent discussions among some leading personalities who have dedicated themselves to public-private partnerships (P3s).

Read more:


Safe Routes to Parks Walk Audit Toolkit
Courtesy of the PBIC Messenger

This toolkit can help communities and residents participate to make their vision of healthy, safe, walkable streets to parks real.

In a walk audit, community members go for a walk together, noting what makes their streets feel comfortable for walking and what needs improvement. Walk audits can be informal and casual, or can include city council members, traffic engineers, and detailed forms. In this toolkit, we give you the tools to hold your own walk audit that will help you improve safe access to parks for people walking and biking.

For more information:


Economic Development Resources for Rural Communities
Courtesy of USDA

USDA’s Forest Service, Rural Development, and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture have developed this resource guide for rural communities to identify resources that develop the recreation economy.

Download here:


TrADE Report: Federal Spending on Walking, Biking
Courtesy of the Rails to Trails Conservancy

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) just released the Transportation Alternatives Spending Report for FY 2019. The report provides a detailed review of how effectively federal funds for walking and biking, provided to states through the Transportation Alternative Set-Aside (TASA) program, are used across the country each year.

The report is a product of the Transportation Alternatives Data Exchange (TrADE), which RTC operates to help stakeholders at the federal, state and local levels better understand and implement the Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside (TASA) program.

Here’s a glimpse of our findings across the country:

- While 98% of the TASA funds obligated to projects in the last five years were used to fund trails, walking and biking, these funds are not nearly enough to meet the need even for projects already selected.

- Obligation rates reached 103.7%, as states actively obligated remaining funds from prior years.
- Approximately 30% of the total FY 2019 Transportation Alternatives (TA) funds apportionment, or $241 million, lapsed or was transferred out, creating a “leaky bucket” for TA funding.

For more information:

In the News

Historic Number of Bay Area Parks, Open Spaces Closed During Massive Wildfires
Courtesy of KCBS Radio

By Eric Brooks

CALIFORNIA - The wildfires have brought devastation, bad air and loss of lives and homes.

But it goes beyond that for those that enjoy the outdoors. The fires have resulted in the largest collective closure of the Bay Area’s recreational areas in history.

"(If) it feels like we’ve never seen anything like this before, it’s because we haven’t," KCBS Radio and San Francisco Chronicle Outdoors Reporter Tom Stienstra said.

According to the Chronicle, almost 200 of the 350 parks, open space preserves and watersheds in the greater Bay Area are closed due to fire activity.

"Smoke, fire danger (and) fire activity, like where the firefighters themselves might be staging or camping. All of that comes first before you can get access to one of your favorite destinations."

Read more:


City reports parks staff are being assaulted for carrying out COVID-19 guidelines
Courtesy of

TEXAS - Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) said that on at least six different occasions since the start of the pandemic, people who don’t want to comply with COVID-19 guidelines have assaulted parks employees.

The department says that since March, Austin’s Park Rangers and Park Monitors have been assaulted both physically and verbally in these instances. Employees have been yelled at, cursed at, pushed into the lake, threatened with weapons, punched, and pushed to the ground.

While Travis County said its parks haven’t seen the same incidents city parks have, Travis County joins the city of Austin in asking the community to “spread kindness, not COVID.”

Read more:


Parks and rec pivots ‘180 degrees’
Courtesy of NACo

By Rachel Looker

County parks and recreation departments celebrated Parks and Recreation Month in July, but this year’s celebration was marked with increased efforts — departments face a challenging summer, with staff adjusting to new protocols and finding creative ways to provide recreational opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Santa Cruz County, Calif. Parks Director Jeff Gaffney said the department’s programs are “180 degrees different than anything we’ve ever done before.”

Gaffney described how the parks department partnered with the county health officer to discuss safe programming options and launched new versions of summer camp programs with precautions to keep children safe and meet state mandates.

The summer camp program consists of groups of 12 children consistently together for nine weeks, Gaffney said. Camp staff regularly take temperatures, ask questions about symptoms, sanitize equipment and have moved most of the programming outside.

Read more:


The Recreation Economy Isn't As Resilient As We Thought
Courtesy of Outside Online

Mike Bennett, the city manager of Fruita, Colorado, was camped out at 18 Road, a popular mountain-bike trailhead, when I called him on a Tuesday morning last spring. Over the howl of desert wind, he told me that the place was pretty much empty. “I’m staring around in the dispersed area, there’s no one here,” he said.

But in 2020, as COVID-19 cases climbed across the country, Fruita and other outdoor hot spots across the West began telling people not to come, shutting off the valve to tourism. While some businesses like bike shops stayed busy with locals, lodging revenue dropped by more than half, hitting the city’s bottom line.

Fruita has grown to count on a booming outdoor recreation economy after shifting away from the bust of oil and gas (when oil- and gas-industry prices dove in 2014, the result of a supply glut and reduced demand, sales-tax revenue in Fruita dropped 90 percent)—and it isn’t alone in its dependence on tourism. But the pandemic and economic fallout that followed are both making it clear that recreation, which is often held up as a golden ticket for rural areas, is volatile, too, reliant upon unsteady markets and personal whims.

Read more:


America Outdoors: Consumers Are Flocking to These 5 Activities
Courtesy of

Consumers are looking for activities to help them stay occupied and healthy as COVID-19 necessitates social distancing. As a result, a number of outdoor categories have experienced explosive growth, our Retail Tracking Service data shows.

Typically, June is a critical selling month for the outdoor industry. In this article, we explore five outdoor activities consumers have flocked to and analyze how June 2020 dollar sales stacked up to last year.

Read more:


The Price of Saving Paradise
Courtesy of Planetizen

CALIFORNIA - Laura Bliss reports on resiliency plans for Paradise, California, where in 2018 the Camp Fire destroyed the town, displaced 27,000 residents, and killed 85 people. Instead of the common managed retreat approach, Paradise is looking to prevention and mitigation strategies that assume people will live in areas vulnerable to wildfires.

The Paradise Recreation and Park District is starting to acquire land and develop a greenbelt that would surround Paradise. "If the nascent plan is fully realized, a moat of green acreage could provide space for respite and play. It would also serve as a fuel break, an unofficial urban growth boundary, and an access point for crews to manage the area with landscaping, prescribed burning, and fire containment for when the next blaze comes," writes Bliss.

Read more:


Akron Marathon provides sensory-inclusive toolkits so all can enjoy the event
Courtesy of Parks and Recreation Business

By Kat Pestian

OHIO - Runners at the FirstEnergy Akron Marathon, Half-Marathon, and Team Relay made history in the world’s first-ever, sensory-inclusive marathon in Akron, Ohio, in September 2019—thanks to a partnership with KultureCity.

KultureCity, a nonprofit with a mission to revolutionize and effect change in the sensory-needs community, was on-site at the race with its sensory-activation vehicle, along with available toolkits equipped with noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, verbal cue cards, and weighted lap pads for any guests who needed additional support at the race.

To prepare for the partnership, marathon staff and volunteers participated in a certification process to help support those guests and fans with sensory needs and to give tips on how to handle a sensory-overload situation.

The marathon and its staff were able to cater to people dealing with conditions like autism, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, and early-onset dementia.

Read more:


Will the Outdoors Become the New Classroom of the COVID Era?
Courtesy of

By Carl Smith

Schools are reopening, and there’s pressure for teachers and students to wean themselves off remote learning and return to their classrooms. Politicians, working parents and pandemic skeptics aren’t the only ones demanding a return to normal learning. The American Academy of Pediatrics has urged that “all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.”

Anxiety and uncertainty about how and when campuses can open safely, complicated by ups and downs in COVID-19 transmission rates, make progress toward this goal extremely difficult.

The situation has brought together a national coalition of educators, architects, school administrators, landscape designers, curriculum experts and other stakeholders who are thinking outside the box and developing guidelines and resources for learning outdoors.

Even if local health authorities allow schools to reopen, it’s virtually impossible to accommodate every student indoors, says Sharon Danks, a Bay Area-based environmental city planner and landscape designer. 

Read more:


Giving the special-needs population the freedom to explore activities
Courtesy of Parks and Recreation Business

By Clarence Thomas 

GEORGIA - In 1996, when her daughter graduated from Central High School in Macon, Ga., Jean Denerson was concerned that her teen with special needs wouldn’t have enough to do anymore. And then the retired educator discovered her town’s adaptive program provided by the Macon-Bibb County Department of Parks and Recreation. “I was overjoyed,” says Denerson, “because it gave her a chance to develop her own circle of peers and move towards greater independence.”

This is just one of the activities the program is designed to do. The bulk of its offerings are 20 programs that mirror Special Olympics and include bowling, bocce, softball, volleyball, and basketball. Macon-Bibb’s adaptive program started in the 1970s as an annual athletic activity in partnership with Special Olympics. It became a year-round program over time. The program serves special citizens of all backgrounds from among metropolitan Macon’s 229,000 citizens.

Read more:

News from NRPA

Announcing NRPA's First Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer

By Kristine Stratton

It is with great pleasure that I get to announce NRPA’s first Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer, Autumn Saxton-Ross, Ph.D. Autumn officially joins the staff of NRPA on September 8 and will be an immense asset to the organization and the field as a whole.

The creation of this leadership role was central to our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan and to centering equity in all that we do. We have a strong foundation of work in our park access, parks build community, and parks for inclusion efforts, to name just a few. This new role will increase our capacity and enable us to partner more holistically across the field, promote and scale up equity-centered practices, and ensure that our member engagement and educational programs are aligned and support you.

Autumn is a true park and rec kid whose career has directly intersected with NRPA and the field many times over. Most recently, she served as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director and Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Lead for NatureBridge, the largest residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service.

Read more:


Greater & Greener Philadelphia, PA Update
Courtesy of the City Parks Alliance

After careful consideration, City Parks Alliance, in cooperation with our host city lead partners Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and Fairmount Park Conservancy, has decided to postpone the next Greater & Greener conference, originally scheduled to take place in Philadelphia, PA in July 2021, to Summer 2022.

There were many factors contributing to this decision, first and foremost the health and safety of our attendees given the uncertain trajectory of the ongoing pandemic. We also recognize that the pandemic has led to tough cuts in city budgets, preventing many of our members and park partners from travel and participation over the next year.

In the interim, City Parks Alliance is curating a special virtual event for June 2021 that will build upon the planning work to date, draw from the excellent speaker proposals received last month, and provide a preview of the in-person Greater & Greener conference in Philadelphia.

Stay tuned for more information about this exciting learning opportunity.


2020 GP RED Think Tank Invitation
Courtesy of GP RED

November 18-20, 2020 - Virtual

The GP RED Think Tank is a national gathering of a diverse network of Thought Leaders brought together via a Multi-Day Virtual Summit to discuss innovations, best practices, and collaborations across multiple disciplines. Held every two years, it fosters an atmosphere that brings unique perspectives to address, identify, and create solutions to challenges and problems facing communities.

For more information:


Let's Talk Parks

Season 2, Episode 12: Making Data Driven Decisions during COVID-19 with Matt Hickey

My guess is you probably didn't get into parks and recreation to do math... But here's the thing Data matters. The numbers matter. Having data to justify your decisions is critically important right now. Which programs should be cut? What facilities should reopen? Which services provide the greatest ROI?

Listen here:


How Parks and Recreation Agencies Can Rebound and Thrive
Courtesy of GP RED

Difficult times often present the opportunity make critical decisions that can move agencies forward. In this episode, Teresa Penbrooke talks with Chris Nunes, Director of Parks and Recreation in The Woodlands, Texas, about how parks and recreation agencies can adapt and even thrive during the COVID-19 Pandemic. They discuss how we can recreate belonging even if we cannot bring people together like we used to, how parks and recreation can be transformed, and considerations for staffing.

Watch here:


Webinar: Wayfinding Signage - Trail System Planning, Design, and Implementation
Courtesy of the Federal Lands Transportation Institute Training Newsletter

Date: September 10, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm ET
Cost: Free
Organization: American Trails

This webinar engages three different organizations spanned over three different states who discuss their individual projects and how to prepare effective, user-friendly and time-dynamic wayfinding signage guidelines.

For more information:


Webinar: Funding Parks and Trails through Land Trust Partnerships
Courtesy of the City Parks Alliance

Date: September 16, 2020
Time: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET
Cost: Free
Organization: City Parks Alliance

With parks and recreation budgets shrinking, it’s increasingly important to leverage partnerships to get important work done. Partnering with land trusts can help communities create and steward equitable green space when it’s needed most.

Agencies and other partners can collaborate with land trusts by leveraging their abilities and expertise in areas such as legal work, fundraising, community engagement, and real estate transactions. Together, they can advance projects that increase access to green space and recreational opportunities, leading to healthier residents.

Learn how cities can meet their green space and equity goals through land trust partnerships, and register now.

For more information:


Webinar: The National Digital Trails Network Project
Courtesy of the Federal Lands Transportation Institute Training Newsletter

Date: September 17, 2020
Time: 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm ET
Cost: Free
Organization: American Trails

Our Nation is home to a vast network of recreational trails traveled by millions of citizens. This trail network varies in age from hundreds of years old to brand new, and its purpose spans from recreation to critical transportation routes. Trail content also varies by managing organization. Because of this varied legacy, existing trails do not form a coherent, connected network. The overall objective of this project is to increase the connectivity within the trail network.

The Department of Interior (DOI) has prioritized a vision to provide better access to public lands and improve connectivity on the nation's public trail systems. The US Geological Survey and DOI are advancing that vision with the National Digital Trails Network (NDT) project. The project consists of three primary goals

For more information:


The 2020 Virtual National Outdoor Recreation Conference
Courtesy of SORP

Outdoors for All: Advancing Stewardship, Equity, and Wellness in Outdoor Recreation

The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) is excited to announce our program for the 2020 Virtual National Outdoor Recreation Conference (NORC). The 2020 Virtual NORC will be available to all SORP members and those who have access through a training/sponsorship agreements. Though a few sessions will be available to all.

It will run for 7 weeks from September 14 through October 28, 2020 with most virtual content scheduled on Wednesdays.

All sessions will be hosted on the Zoom platform. You will need to register for each distinct session that you wish to attend. We will be recording each session, and the recordings will be available if you are unable to make any of the live sessions.

There may be minor changes to the program, and we will sending weekly emails with the preview of the upcoming week.

For more information:

NACPRO | PO Box 74, Marienville, PA 16239 | (814) 927-8212