There’s an Octopus in the Parking Garage?! ‘Futureproof’ Your Parks for Resiliency to Climate Change

10/28/2020 3 p.m. EDT

Session Type:  Education Session (1 hour)

Track: Conservation


With the election upon us, one topic that is often discussed is climate change and its dramatic effects on communities all over the world. Increased flooding, drought, expanding ranges of non-native invasive species, access to clean water and changes in the growing season are just a few impacts that show that this isn’t just a coastal problem. Resiliency is another term often used — but what is resiliency and why should you be thinking about it when developing/redeveloping parks? Making decisions regarding the location of parkland, the use of those lands, the placement of infrastructure and overall park design will be critical in the coming decades. This discussion will give you a good idea of how climate change will be affecting parks and recreation departments, what jurisdictions around the country are doing to be more resilient, and how you describe these changes and their effects to elected officials and the public.


Learning Outcomes:

Understand how climate change is affecting communities and parklands.

Discuss how parklands assist municipalities with resilience.

Identify practical steps to "futureproof" parks for long-term sustainability, recreational use, natural resource protection and climate change mitigation.



Chris Matthews

Division Director, Mecklenburg County (North Carolina) Parks and Recreation

Chris Matthews is the division director for nature preserves and natural resources for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation in North Carolina. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and a Master of Science degree in applied ecology and conservation biology. His professional interests include habitat restoration, fisheries, stream restoration and protected species management. Matthews speaks regularly at NRPA Annual Conferences and instructed at the NRPA Green School.


Jai Cole

Chief, Park Planning and Stewardship Division, M-NCPPC, Montgomery Parks, Maryland

Jai Cole has 20 years of experience in parks and recreation and is currently the chief of the Park Planning and Stewardship Division for M-NCPPC, Montgomery County Department of Parks in Maryland. Cole supervises natural resources, park and trail planning, natural surface trail implementation and cultural resource stewardship for the 38,000-acre, six-time NRPA Gold Medal Award-winning park system.

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