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Operation Resiliency Response

In the United States public Parks & Recreation (P&R) agencies play a vital role in the physical, economic, social, and emotional health of communities. These agencies may oversee, own, and manage parks, recreation and community facilities, open spaces, trails, conservation areas, and sometimes other community amenities such as libraries, arts centers, median and monuments, fairgrounds, and sometimes even airports or other public assets. Climate crises and other types of natural disaster events are only becoming more common, and P&R agencies are often enacted as front-line responders, creating shelters, managing damage and stormwater, and helping community residents recover mentally and physically. Find out more background through this 2023 article published by the National Recreation and Park Association

Prepare – Respond - Recover 

The mission of ActivEnviro’s Operation Resiliency Response (ORR) Initiative is to ensure that Parks & Recreation (P&R) Agencies are prepared for, effectively respond to, and recover from natural and human-made disasters, including building long-term community resiliency strategies.

The ORR initiative (under various names) has been led by Donna Kuethe, CPRP since before Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in 2006. Donna was a public parks and recreation agency director, and saw the need for agencies to be ready and help each other when major disaster events happen. She worked to create partnerships with state and national parks and recreation associations.


ActivEnviro (formerly GP RED) got involved in helping through leadership from Dr. Teresa Penbrooke after the 2013 Colorado Front Range major floods that devastated many agencies and communities. Since that time, the ORR Committee, adding interested professionals from around the country, has met almost monthly to identify and create ways to help professionals and agencies be ready. Now the ORR Manual is available and trainings are offered to help. 

This Operation Resiliency Response (ORR) Manual describes the background, considerations, and steps for how public P&R agencies can prepare for, respond to, and recover from natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and other devastating events. The manual came out of over ten years of collaboration from P&R and other allied fields, associations, and educators, along with a national survey of practitioners through ActivEnviro (formerly GP RED) in 2019. Other acute human-made events, such as mass shootings, or long-term events, such as the COVID 19 Pandemic or needed responses to climate change and resiliency, can benefit from similar P&R preparedness, planning, and response. The authors worked with a committee of experts to create and review this manual to help guide professionals and agencies so you are ready and resilient before an event occurs. 

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