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Experts Gather in Atlanta to Determine Best Practices, Models for Green Infrastructure in Underserved Communities

ATLANTA, March 10, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, thought leaders from around the country are gathering to explore solutions to stormwater management through the use of green infrastructure that also benefits community members. The Great Urban Parks Campaign: Green Infrastructure in Underserved Communities convening in Atlanta, Georgia is a collaboration between the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and the American Planning Association (APA). The event will bring together experts and thought-leaders to find and share best practices for using green infrastructure parks in underserved communities.

The convening will kick off the Great Urban Parks Campaign, a program aiming ultimately to increase and improve the use of green infrastructure in local parks — particularly those located in underserved communities — to improve stormwater management while creating places for people to recreate and connect with nature. Many parks are ideally suited for green infrastructure as they are often located in communities near floodplains or in other areas that can measurably contribute to stormwater management.

The focus on underserved communities is two-fold. First, green infrastructure improves a community's environmental quality. Low-income communities and communities of color are too often the victims of flooding and combined sewer overflows due to aging "gray infrastructure". Second, these same communities also frequently lack quality green space and safe places to recreate and connect with nature. Green infrastructure projects in parks like rain gardens, constructed wetlands, daylighted streams, and pervious pavement can increase access to nature. This allows community members a place to gather together and foster a deeper appreciation of the local environment while managing stormwater on site.

"Everyone deserves the opportunity to easily access nature and a healthy environment," said Barbara Tulipane, NRPA President and CEO. "By incorporating green infrastructure in the parks and communities that need it most, we're not only creating solutions that aid in flood prevention and stormwater management, we're also creating nature engagement opportunities for those who often aren't given the chance."

"Green infrastructure can create opportunities beyond those provided by traditional stormwater management approaches, particularly in underserved communities," said David Rouse, AICP, APA's managing director of research and advisory services. "We hope to inspire action by highlighting the economic, environmental, health and social benefits that accompany green infrastructure."

The group of thought leaders includes representatives from NRPA, APA, the Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, The Conservation Fund and the Trust for Public Land among others. In addition to panel discussions, attendees will tour examples of green infrastructure projects throughout Atlanta.

"The Atlanta Department of Parks and Recreation is committed to leading the nation in developing green infrastructure in every pocket of our city," said Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Amy Phuong. "We are honored that through our continued partnership, the National Recreation and Park Association has seen the manifestation of our work and has therefore selected Atlanta to share our best practices with industry leaders from around the country."

The outcomes of this convening will include identifying current model projects in parks and developing a strategy for aiding park leaders and planners to advance green infrastructure work in their communities. The Great Urban Parks Campaign is supported by The JPB Foundation. Learn more about the Great Urban Parks Campaign: Green Infrastructure in Underserved Communities and stay up-to-date on the convening's outcomes by visiting: www.nrpa.org/greeninfrastructure.

About the National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people. Through its network of more than 50,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles, conservation initiatives and equitable access to parks and public space. For more information, visit www.nrpa.org. For digital access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit www.parksandrecreation.org.

About the American Planning Association

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning – physical, economic, and social – so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. For more information, visit www.planning.org.

CONTACT: Roxanne Sutton 703.858.2166 rsutton@nrpa.org @NRPA_News

Source:National RecreationandPark Association