News & Updates

Community Partner Spotlight: Denver Parks and Recreation

Faith Overall - November 20, 2023
Group of 6 people clean up trash in natural area next to body of water.

The Leave No Trace organization has called Colorado home since its inception in 1994. During the nearly 30 years in the state, the organization has had the fantastic opportunity to work with many partners in our backyard. One of those partners is the Denver Parks and Recreation Department (DPR). Denver Parks and Recreation is an urban park agency that prioritizes the health of residents and natural areas through innovative programs and safe, beautiful and sustainable outdoor areas.

The park system offers over 710,000 city residents access to nearly 200,000 acres of urban and mountain parkland, including off-street trails, parkways, and other natural areas. Denver is a rapidly growing city with many folks moving to the state to enjoy the great access to the outdoors. That said, like many city park agencies, DPR faces the challenge of juggling increasing visitation with protecting their outdoor spaces. As a Community Partner, DPR has been utilizing the Leave No Trace principles and education as a critical component in helping to lessen the impact on DPR parks.

Many of the city’s priorities align with those at Leave No Trace. Denver Parks and Recreation has also been investing in the health of its outdoor spaces by prioritizing the fight against climate change. This summer, they launched It’s In Denver’s Nature, focused on the intentional steps the city is taking to reduce climate change and, therefore, become a more resilient park system.  As a part of this effort, DPR has.

  1. Reduced water use across city properties
  2. Enhancing local pollinator habitat
  3. Expanding the city’s tree canopy
  4. Promoting habitat connectivity
  5. Partnering with local organizations to conduct stewardship projects in city parks as well as encourage individual acts of stewardship in the form of practicing Leave No Trace

DPR is also proud to continually add new park spaces in the city with the goal of every resident living within a 10-minute walk or roll to a local park. They are expanding access to green spaces and alternative transportation modes by expanding their urban, off-street trails. Finally, all of this has been done through an equity lens, adding or improving parks where needed most.

Children playing on dinosaur sculpture in playground

We asked Denver Parks and Recreation to tell us about their partnership with Leave No Trace and how it helps support a healthy park system.

What made you want to join Leave No Trace as a Community Partner?

Leave No Trace principles are just as applicable to urban park settings as to backcountry hiking trips.  DPR wanted to join Leave No Trace so that we can help spread the message on how best to minimize personal impacts on public lands so that they can be enjoyed to the fullest by all.

How does Leave No Trace add to the well-being of your organization?

Leave No Trace helps to provide a contextual framework to think about when it comes to managing and recreating on public lands. Leave No Trace principles are easy to remember and reference. They give our park rangers and staff members an easy place to turn to while having conversations with the public and a way to think about our work and how we impact a space as an organization.

What specific ways does your business or organization promote or incorporate Leave No Trace into your work?

By limiting our impact locally, we can also begin to think more about our regional impact. Denver Parks and Recreation is the single largest customer of Denver Water. We are working collaboratively with Denver Water to improve the efficiency of our irrigation systems and respond to local weather patterns to conserve more water, implementing landscape transformation to reduce water use, and provide habitat for various animals that navigate the city. We are constantly looking to identify other areas to lower our impact.

What is one tip you would like to share with other Community Partners for incorporating Leave No Trace into their work or programming?

Leave No Trace can expand beyond just singular action. It can help provide a contextual framework that can be used to assess the impact of an organization at a regional level. Leave No Trace principles can be used to evaluate how your organization is lowering its effects and how you can lower your personal impact.

What do you value most about your partnership with Leave No Trace?

DPR values the sharing of ideas and solutions that are accessible through the Leave No Trace network. Other agencies and organizations in Leave No Trace’s partner network stem from various backgrounds and bring in fresh ideas to help tackle new and old problems.

Click here to learn more about Denver Parks and Recreation’s It’s In Our Nature initiative. Click here to learn more about how your agency, organization or small business can join our network of Community Partners.


Let’s protect and enjoy our natural world together

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