07-12-21 | News

NRPA and Sasaki Partnered Together to Create A Toolkit For Resilient Parks

Climate. Park. Change.

2020 was the hottest year on record. In order to combat various challenges hitting the Intermountain West, Sasaki partnered with NRPA to create a toolkit for parks and recreation professional to combat climate change called Climate. Park. Change.

Sasaki's 2020 research grant program partnered with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) to create a toolkit for park and recreation professionals to advance climate mitigation at local parks.

Climate. Park. Change., is a web-based data solution that shows how climate change affects public spaces and how the physical design impacts the community.

"Climate change is impacting virtually all local, state and national parks to varying degrees," Kristine Stratton, president and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) explained, "Extremes run from too much water in too short a time to drought conditions ... and associated worsening air and water quality."


As part of the project, Sasaki and NRPA worked with three cities across the Intermountain West to identify a park, either current or potential, to be a part of the case study. Glendale Water Park Redevelopment in Salt Lake City, Utah, Bear Meadows Park in Evanston, Wyoming, and West Bar Val Wood Park, Denver, Colorado participated in the study.

The process to develop this toolkit included five months of interviews, processing information and gathering data on the major climate change challenges in the Intermountain West. The strategies are organized into three categories; Ecosystem Functionality, Parks, Operations, & Maintenance and Users & Access which allows users to find strategies specific to their challenges and need.

Bear Meadows Park for example, which is a 6-acre grassy field that is used for activities including soccer and cross-country skiing, has been impacted by climate change through wildfires, drought, and invasive species, to name a few. The study laid out a plan to fight against these occurrences including, native plantings, placing native plants under canopied areas, and creating clean edges.

Prior to this innovative toolkit, few resources existed to aid parks and recreation professionals in analyzing and identifying the gross impact that public lands can have on the climate within a region.

"Our urban parks have this incredible opportunity," Anna Cawrse, a landscape architect and director of Sasaki's Denver office elaborated, "There's not a lot of knowledge about how you design, implement and maintain ideas in the park system. But if we can be more proactive with tools like Climate.Park.Change, it could have a huge impact."


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