How to use Public Parks to Improve Climate, Health, and Equity Outcomes


The Fourth National Climate Assessment painted a stark picture about the impacts of climate change. Cities are already facing multi-faceted challenges due to rising temperatures, from urban heat islands to public health. In low-income communities with poor access to parks and trails, these threats can intersect and amplify each other with dire consequences. In this session, urban parks leaders from across the country will discuss how they are using parks, trails, and greenspaces to help cities address the challenges posed by a warming climate. Well-designed greenspaces can absorb stormwater, reduce air temperature, create carbon-free transportation methods, and improve public health. Particular focus will be given to how GIS-based data tools can improve climate equity by optimizing green investments to protect a city. This recorded session was presented at NRPA Live 2019.

Session Length: 1.25 Hours

Credit: 0.1 CEU

NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration.  The learning content is available for registration for three years from the date of origination.

Taj Schottland

Climate-Smart Cities Program Manager, Green Infrastructure, The Trust for Public Land

As a leader of The Trust for Public Land's Climate Program, Taj works with diverse cross-sector partnerships to advance the implementation of multiple benefit green infrastructure projects in communities on the front lines of climate change. He has over seven years of experience working as a climate adaptation specialist, project manager, and restoration ecologist.

Willis Winters

Director, Dallas Park and Recreation Department

As the Director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department since 2013, Willis leads one of the nation’s largest municipal park systems. Dallas’ 23,242 acres of park land include 388 parks, 13 lakes, 41 recreation centers, 149 miles of hike and bike trails, Fair Park, the Dallas Zoo, the Trinity Audubon Center, and the Dallas Arboretum. He has oversight of 937 full-time employees and manages an $85.3 million annual operating budget, with a capital budget in excess of $40 million annually. Willis has been with the Dallas Park and Recreation Department since 1993.

Molly Plummer

North Texas Parks for People Program Manager, The Trust for Public Land

Molly works within the North Texas program of The Trust for Public Land, where she led the development of Smart Growth for Dallas, a GIS-based initiative to improve the environmental, social, and economic resilience of Dallas. Her work has led to on-the-ground implementation of climate-resilience strategies, including the planting of 1,000 trees in one of the city's largest urban heat islands.

Wende David

Senior Conservation Program Manager, NRPA

Wende David is the Senior Conservation Program Manager at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) where she leads its Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) portfolio.  Wende works to improve environmental and social outcomes in communities through promoting and advancing green infrastructure projects and partnerships within parks. 

Wende holds a B.S. in Environmental Policy & Behavior from the University of Michigan and is currently interested in leveraging solutions at the intersection of climate resilience, social equity, and health.  

Since she started in March 2018, Wende has helped secure over $1M in program funding including a major federal grant that helped develop a new health program focus for NRPA. Wende provided strategic direction around the development of NRPA’s climate resilience initiatives and is helping to establish NRPA as a though-leader in this space through nation-wide convenings, professional networks and articles.  As an experienced non-profit leader with over 20 years of practice in the environmental field, Wende has successfully overseen community outreach programs and fundraising campaigns, helped set the strategic direction for a variety of community-based organizations, and served in a leadership capacity with a variety of volunteer groups. Wende holds a B.S. in Environmental Policy & Behavior from the University of Michigan and is currently interested in leveraging solutions at the intersection of climate resilience, social equity, and health.

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