Feature Article - June 2009
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A Look at Trends in Parks & Recreation

Parks & The Environment

Parks respondents were more likely than others to report that environmental and conservation issues were among their top concerns, and environmental education for patrons was the top planned program addition among these respondents. Nearly a third indicated this was one of their top current concerns, compared to just 20.6 percent of all respondents. And more than a third indicated they plan to add environmental education programs at their facilities. This coincides with a recent study that found U.S. parks and recreation leaders are fully engaged in environmental stewardship.

The study, conducted by the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and Landscape Structures Inc., was concluded in January 2009. When asked to name the greatest environmental challenge faced by their agencies in the next two years, nearly 450 parks and recreation agency respondents said that the need to fund environmental initiatives in the face of budget cuts was their top challenge, followed by "struggling with the effects of reduced water supply."

The study also found that parks and recreation officials welcome their roles in environmental leadership—most believe they should be the environmental leader within municipal government and encourage members of the community to be better environmental stewards. In the past five years, environmental stewardship has become more important to 80 percent of agencies, and more than 60 percent believe their management team is well educated about environmental issues and procedures.

The study also suggests that park and recreation agencies need to do a better job of communicating with stakeholders, explained Barbara Tulipane, NRPA CEO. "While this study clearly portrays the environmental leadership of parks and recreation agencies, it also revealed that only 13 percent of agencies produce an annual sustainability report that shares their environmental aspirations," Tulipane said. "In this economic climate where agencies must fight for every dollar of government funding, success will often be determined by the awareness and mobilization of our constituents. This all starts by communicating our accomplishments and goals."

Learn more at www.nrpa.org.