Beth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902
DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation wins national award for innovative outdoor recreation and conservation planning tools
DOVER (June 18, 2015) – DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation has placed Delaware at the forefront of recreation and conservation planning by being selected for the 2015 State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) Excellence Award. The award recognizes Delaware State Parks for its use of innovative tools that prioritize construction of outdoor recreation facilities to increase trail and new park opportunities, as well as revitalize amenities in need of replacement.
The Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals (SORP) and the National Park Service (NPS) selected “Delaware Outdoors: Building an Outdoor Legacy,” as the winning state SCORP covering 2013-2018. Every year, SORP’s Board of Directors and NPS select a state or territory whose SCORP clearly embraces the spirit of outdoor recreation planning and which meets the requirements of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.
“Investments in parks, trails, conservation areas and outdoor recreation facilities offer countless and long-lasting benefits to our communities, as well as numerous societal and economic returns,” said Governor Jack Markell. “I am grateful to the employees of the Division of Parks and Recreation for their thoughtful planning and congratulate them on being recognized for their efforts.”
A key factor in selecting Delaware for the SCORP Excellence Award was the authors’ development of a tool that identifies key locations for investment. Led by the Division of Parks and Recreation’s Park Resource Office, this sophisticated Geographic Information System tool was designed to identify gaps in local park service and to locate the best areas to invest in outdoor recreation that maximizes public use. The flexibility of the model can dynamically forecast public recreation needs as conditions change over a long planning period.
“It’s a huge accomplishment for DNREC to receive this level of recognition,” said DNREC Secretary David Small. “To be held up as an example of how to do things right and to be recognized by colleagues is a testament to the quality and commitment our Park Resource Office staff has achieved.”
The selection team cited other exemplary features for Delaware’s taking top honors. Aging and replacement of outdoor recreation facilities were addressed, the plan was clear, concise, and easy to read and understand, and the planning and development process was inviting and inclusive.
For example, an advisory committee comprised of city and county park departments, private organizations, and members of health, disabilities, planning and conservation agencies contributed direction in the development of the SCORP. At their request, Division of Parks and Recreation staff provided Kent County and the cities of Newark, Dover, Lewes, Smyrna and Wilmington with in-depth outdoor recreation facility analyses to assist in their local park and recreation planning.
“Delaware’s SCORP enables us to create outdoor recreation that helps the people of Delaware to be healthier,” said Division of Parks and Recreation Director Raymond Bivens. “It also helps us attract tourists and businesses alike. It’s important for us to invest wisely to create the best outdoor recreation opportunities - and this plan helps us do that.”
Each year, the award honors the state or territory and individuals which, through their collective roles in the planning process, produce an excellent SCORP not only for their state/territory, but also for the nation as a whole by making the case for the importance of providing places and opportunities for public outdoor recreation that strengthens the health and vitality of U.S. citizens.
"On this 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, the new Delaware SCORP exemplifies its spirit and intent,” said Sergio Capozzi, President of the Society of Outdoor Recreation Professionals. “This impressive planning document includes innovative GIS analysis techniques that serve as a model for other states across the country.”
In addition to meeting the planning requirements of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, Delaware State Parks’ SCORP:
· explored the importance of public outdoor recreation as integral to the healthy living of the state’s residents and visitors;
· took into account the opinions, ideas and concerns related to public outdoor recreation;
· strengthened the links between disciplines, programs and services that benefit from providing and protecting outdoor recreation resources; and
· created a future-oriented plan with strategies to provide and protect public outdoor recreation resources and facilities.
In addition, Delaware’s SCORP was praised for producing a tangible product that accommodates frequent references and updates.
Vol. 45, No. 199