A Comprehensive New Resource for Park and Recreation Agencies Fighting Climate Change

2020 was the hottest year on record, highlighting that we are experiencing the impacts of climate change now. Park and recreation professionals, who serve nearly every community in the U.S., are poised to advance climate mitigation and adaptation strategies to build environmental and community resiliency through the power of local parks and recreation.

However, understanding the specific climate change challenges facing each community and developing associated strategies park and recreation professionals can utilize is difficult and at best, as few aggregated resources on the subject exist. As part of Sasaki’s 2020 research grant program, Sasaki, in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) created a toolkit for resilient parks: Climate.Park.Change.

Climate.Park.Change., a web-based platform, compiles data on how climate change affects park and recreation spaces and suggests physical design solutions that address climate impacts as well as other community challenges. This toolkit initially focuses on the Intermountain West region, an area identified where research is lacking compared to most coastal cities and towns. The ultimate goal of this toolkit is to give park and recreation professionals the tools needed to create climate-ready parks and build community and environmental resilience.

“Our urban parks provide one of the greatest opportunities to both adapt to, and mitigate for, the impacts of climate change,” says Sasaki’s research lead on the project, Anna Cawrse, ASLA, PLA, co-director of Sasaki’s Denver office. “In partnership with NRPA, Sasaki focused on a region of the country less publicized for climate impacts to create a resource that outlines data, threats, and strategies to arm designers and parks agencies with a guide to more resilient planning and design.“

The toolkit will allow professionals to explore regional impacts arising from climate change and associated climate adaptation design strategies. These strategies will be tailored for the park and recreation profession to adapt their infrastructure to combat the climate-related environmental, health, social, and economic impacts facing their communities. The tool will prioritize strategies that are replicable across varying park and recreation systems, achieve maximum community improvement, and promote equitable investment.

Explore the Climate.Park.Change tool here.

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