PPN Roundtable: Climate Change’s Impacts on Parks and Recreation

images: Matt Boehner and courtesy of the 2022 NEWEA Annual Conference session “Effects of Sea Level Rise on Maine’s Wastewater Infrastructure”

With World Landscape Architecture Month just two weeks away, ASLA’s Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team have compiled observations made and actions taken in response to climate change and its manifold impacts—impacts that are being felt around the world. Though something so wide-reaching can be difficult to grasp fully in scale and scope, we hope these updates from your peers in landscape architecture and from parks and rec departments across the country may help make the sprawling challenges wrought by climate change a little more tangible—and demonstrate how imperative it is to take action now.

Contributions for today’s post come from:

  • Matt Boehner, ASLA – Columbia, Missouri
  • Kalle Maggio, ASLA – New England
  • Bronwen Mastro, ASLA, PLA, LEED BD+C – Bend, Oregon
  • Emily Paskewicz, ASLA, PLA – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Steph Thisius-Sanders, ASLA, PLA – Bakersfield, California

Matt Boehner, ASLA
Senior Landscape Architect, Columbia Parks and Recreation
Columbia, Missouri

There has been an increase in large flood event storms since 2015, with 100-, 200-, and even 500-year events occurring every two or three years. Over the course of June 23-25, 2021, the Mid-Missouri area recorded nearly 11 inches of rainfall, resulting in over $500,000 in flood damage to parks and trails throughout Columbia.

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Running Wild

by Matt Boehner, ASLA

Runners at the starting line
The intensity of the starting line captured during the Gans Creek Classic. / image: John Kelly Photos, LLC

Running is one of the most popular and practiced sports worldwide. In the U.S. alone, more than 64 million people went jogging or running in 2016, representing a nearly 300% per capita increase since 1990. Relieving stress and having fun are among the top reasons Americans continue to run; however, within the growing trend are competitive races on and off road, with the passion for this starting at the youth level with the sport of cross country.

While cross country running is by no means a new individual or team sport, the planning trend for parks and recreation departments has been traditional active sports such as baseball/softball, basketball, and soccer facilities. Cross country courses historically were set up to run through parks or golf courses following simple mowed paths and painted lines, with no real infrastructure or permanence. Columbia Parks and Recreation (CPRD) and a unique partnership with the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) and the University of Missouri Athletics (MU) aims to race to the front of the growing running trend of dedicated cross country courses with the development of a championship cross country course as a stand-alone park amenity that can host a variety of running events for all skill levels.

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