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Here is Your Parks and Rec Viewing Party Menu

Here is Your Parks and Rec Viewing Party Menu

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The premier of the seventh and final season of Parks and Recreation is less than a month away, and it’s the kind of show that’s just more fun to watch with friends. What’s more fun than a Parks and Rec viewing party? A Parks and Rec viewing party with themed snacks, of course! Food brings people together, and there’s nothing more important than friendship. Except maybe breakfast food. “Either way,” in the immortal words of Leslie Knope, “work comes third.”

First, Assemble Your Guest List

Ask your friends if they’re busy on January 13, 2015.

Credit: via Giphy

Now you're ready to plan your menu. Here are some suggestions:

All the Bacon and Eggs You Have

Cook all the bacon you have and set it out on a plate. Then, hard-boil a dozen eggs and serve them, shell-on, in the egg crate they came in. Matching party platter optional; Ron Swanson knows what he’s about, son.

Credit: via Giphy

Andy's Mouth Surprise

To make this nutritious treat, unwrap two Starbursts, stick a Skittle between them, and squeeze to close. It's nice because the flavor of the Starbursts really brings out a similar flavor in the Skittles.

Credit: via Giphy


Pizza? Never heard of it! Be careful around these double-crossing snacks, though, and only trust the best source of healthy and delicious snacks: The Low-Cal Calzone Zone.

Credit: via Giphy

Food My Food Eats (salad bar)

Be considerate of the Chris Traegers on your guest list and set out a salad bar. It keeps you healthy, but god, at what cost? Reassure the rest of the party that they are under no obligation to eat their greens.

Credit: via Giphy and via Giphy

Apps and ‘Zerts

Don’t forget to provide a nice spread of Bean Blankie melts (cheese quesadillas), Long-Ass Rice salad (pasta salad), and a Big Ol’ Cookie (cake) for dessert. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even serve some Chicky-Chicky-Parm-Parm (chicken Parmesan) or Chicky Catch (chicken cacciatore) as a main dish.

Meat Tornadoes

“It literally killed a guy last year.” Say no more, Andy. Share the best possible meat delivery system with your hungry guests, whether that means substituting all the vegetables in a classic burrito with more meat or creating something new and protein-packed.

Credit: imgur/kosmokramster

Red Vines

"We're a Red Vines family." Deal with it.

Credit: via Giphy

Treat Yo Self Cupcakes

All you need for these babies is a decadent cupcake recipe, colorful frosting, and a steady hand. Enjoy; you deserve it.

Credit: via Giphy

Turkey Chili

Indulge in one of Andy and April’s go-to dinners; just make sure you serve it out of a Frisbee, for extra cuteness. Bonus points if you share forks.

Credit: via Giphy


For all of JJ’s Diner’s favorite customers. Why would anyone eat anything besides breakfast food?

Credit: via Giphy

Entertainment (720)

Finally, if you really want to throw a killer Parks and Rec party, don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops and rent one of these:

Credit: via Giphy

Do your Part to Preserve Scott’s Run Nature Preserve

Visitors flock to Scott’s Run Nature Preserve each spring and summer to see its abundant wildflowers and hike to its beautiful waterfall, and the Park Authority wants to remind all visitors to share in the efforts to preserve this unique preserve by following park rules and regulations. That includes such basics as staying on trails, resisting the urge to go swimming and leaving any alcohol at home.

Scott’s Run Nature Preserve is one of only a few nature preserves in the county park system and holds a wide variety of remarkable and rare plant species. They can be found growing along precipitous cliffs, in steep valleys and throughout a mature, hardwood forest that comprises large oak and beech trees, ancient hemlock and wild cherry trees that stand as tall as the oaks.

The preserve’s beauty can be deceptive, however. Its waters can harbor dangerous currents, and submerged rocks can combine with those currents to make entering the water a deadly decision. Water quality is also a concern. For those reasons, no swimming, wading or boating is allowed at Scott’s Run.

In the past, some visitors have tried to turn the preserve into a party spot, especially around the waterfall area. Alcohol and waterfalls don’t mix. The Park Authority will have security onsite this year to enforce the ban on alcohol and help keep everyone safe in Scott’s Run.

To keep crowds in check and allow for all visitors to have the best experience at the preserve, parking is limited to 50 cars in the designated parking areas. No parking is permitted in adjacent neighborhoods or along the roadway leading to the park.

Be part of the effort to make Scott’s Run a unique destination for families and visitors of all ages who want to connect with nature’s beauty. Please follow the preserve’s posted rules and regulations.

See Changes to the Historic Turner Farmhouse at a Watch Party in May

The Fairfax County Park Authority continues its celebration of Historic Preservation Month this May with a glimpse into the ongoing renovation of the historic Turner Farmhouse.

Join the Park Authority’s watch party on Thursday, May 27, 2021, to see the premiere of a virtual open house video for the farmhouse -- one of the historic properties in the county’s Resident Curator Program. This video will highlight the history and unique architectural features of this resident-curator-occupied property and reveal improvements made since the curator moved in.

The Turner Farmhouse was built in 1905 by the Turner family and is located in a 52-acre community park. The four-bedroom, four-bath house is significant due to its Queen Anne style architecture and because it exemplifies the cultural, economic, and historic heritage of the Springvale and Forestville/Great Falls communities in Northern Virginia. Many of the original details, formal parlor, hardwood flooring, and fireplaces, remain. The Turners themselves were hailed as model farmers in a 1948 article in the "National Grange Monthly."

The Turner Farmhouse property is located at 10609 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls, Virginia. The watch party begins at 11:30 am. Join us on our YouTube page.

The Park Authority’s Resident Curator Program provides a unique opportunity for individuals, nonprofit and for-profit organizations to secure long-term lease agreements for historic properties without charge in exchange for their efforts to rehabilitate these underutilized properties. The program requires reasonable public access to these historic resources, which occurs in the form of an annual open house. This year, the open houses are being presented in a virtual format.

For additional information about the Resident Curator Program, please visit the Resident Curator Program website.

How to Make Strawberry Chocolate Bars

  1. Create the creamy base by stirring together vegan sour cream, vegetable oil, and plant-based milk.
  2. Make the chocolate layer by combining the cake mix with the creamy base. Press this into the prepared pan.
  3. Make the strawberry layer by combining the cake mix with the creamy base. Press this into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until done.

Here are more detailed step-by-step instructions.

Step One: Make the Creamy Base

Stir together vegan sour cream, vegetable oil, and plant-based milk.

Step Two: Prepare the Chocolate Layer

  1. Pour the chocolate cake mix into a mixing bowl.
  2. Pour in half the creamy mixture and stir to combine. You will have a thick batter, more similar to cookie dough.
  3. Press this into the bottom of your prepared 9×13 pan.
  4. Sprinkle half the chocolate chips over the top of this layer.

Step Three: Prepare the Strawberry Layer

  1. Rinse out your mixing bowl and dry.
  2. Pour the strawberry cake mix into the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining creamy mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Gently press this layer over the top of the chocolate layer. It helps to get your fingers wet and press the strawberry batter evenly across the top.
  5. Sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate chips.

Step Four: Bake

Bake the bars for 45 to 50 minutes. When there done, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool. These bars will thicken as they cool, so allowing them this time will help them cut into better, firmer slices.

Gary "Jerry" Gergich is a character in the TV series Parks and Recreation. Jerry's real name is Gerald, and he uses the shortened version Garry but he is referred to as Jerry for the first five seasons (for which reason the character is usually referred to by this name in external media). In the last two seasons — as a running joke — the name other characters call him changes, initially to Larry, then to Terry, before finally settling on his real name of Garry.

Tags: ampersand, tv, garry-gergich, jerry-gergich, leslie-knope

Available in Plus Size T-Shirt

Here is Your Parks and Rec Viewing Party Menu - Recipes

The Lake Fairfax Carousel is in need of repair and will be out of service until further notice.

Thank you for your patience.

Beginning April 1, 2020, Lake Fairfax will open to fishing from kayaks. A daily launch fee or season pass will be required for all privately launched kayaks. Use of any type of motor -- gas, electric or other -- is prohibited.

Daily launch pass $5.00
Season launch pass $40.00

For recreation and fun in western Fairfax, this 476 acre park includes a 20-acre lake with fishing, the Water Mine family Swimmin’ Hole, boat rentals, carousel, athletic fields, picnic shelters and picnic areas with grills, a playground, restrooms, campgrounds, trails and a skatepark.

The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole features tubing on the Rattlesnake Lazy River, a tot pool at Tenderfoot Pond, slides, tunnels, and interactive play features designed for young children. The Water Mine is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.

Carousel and boat rentals are open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Visit Marina and Carousel for hours of operation details.

The campground, picnic areas , playground, trails and skatepark are open year-round. Virginia State fishing license is required, and sailboats, gasoline and electric-powered boats and swimming are prohibited in the lake.

Celebrate National Park Week with fee-free weekend, Find Your Park campaign

ZION NATIONAL PARK – Zion National Park will join other national parks throughout the country in celebrating National Park Week from Saturday through Sunday, April 26, with several events.

Activities in the county related to National Park Week:

Saturday and Sunday, April 18 and 19 : On opening weekend of National Park Week, every national park, including Zion National Park, will provide free admission .

Saturday, April 18 : Zion National Park staff will participate in the Town of Springdale’s 11th Annual Earth Day Celebration from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Enjoy solar-powered music, native plants, environmental art projects, and a reading of Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax,” among other activities and booths. For more information, visit the Canyon Community Center’s website.

Monday, April 20 : Zion National Park Foundation, with the help of the St. George Area Tourism Office, will hold a “Celebrate the National Parks in your Backyard” open house at the Dixie Center, 1835 S. Convention Center Drive in St. George, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Drop in to meet the superintendents from Zion as well as nearby Pipe Spring and Cedar Breaks national monuments, learn the latest information on the parks and find out how you can support them. There will be light refreshments, a silent auction, and activities for kids. For more information about the Zion National Park Foundation, visit its website.

Friday, April 24 : Zion National Park is celebrating the kickoff event for the park’s Electric Vehicle Program, made possible by the Department of Energy Clean Cities National Parks Initiative program.

As part of the program, the park will receive three plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and several electric vehicle charging stations . EV charging stations will also be available for visitors to use at Kolob Canyon Visitor Center and Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

The kickoff event will take place at the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center, 3752 E. Kolob Canyon Road in New Harmony, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Visit the Utah Clean Cities Coalition’s website to learn more.

At Grand Canyon National Park

“The Emerald Mile“ author Kevin Fedarko will present an evening program on Saturday, April 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Shrine of the Ages Auditorium at Grand Canyon National Park. The author will sign books after the presentation and also the following day during the Earth Day celebration.

Earth Day festivities continue Sunday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center plaza. Join park rangers, green team members and the park’s partners in a “green” celebration of unique and interactive activities related to the environment and all nature has to offer at Grand Canyon National Park. This event is free and open to all ages.

Find Your Park campaign

The National Park Service and National Park Foundation are launching their “Find Your Park” Campaign in an effort to connect and reconnect Americans to their heritage and public lands. Zion is encouraging people to share their park stories, their special places and memories at the Find Your Park website, as well as find new places to visit, explore and create memories.

Find Your Park showcases everything parks can be and the wide range of opportunities they have to offer, highlighting wellness, recreation, community, education, history, culture and preservation of the environment.

Find Your Park connects people to parks, redefining what a park can be and the important role they play in the lives of current and future generations.

Here are nine suggestions to get you started:

  • Find Your Park: On, there is a searchable list of ideas for ways to find your park, including in-park and digital activities. There is also a fun and interactive quiz to help people jump-start their journeys.
  • Share Your Story: Your story could inspire others to discover their park! The public is invited to share their stories on social media using #FindYourPark and at People can also enter The Centennial Project contest.
  • Take Advantage of Free Admission Days: Entrance fees are waived on April 18-19.
  • Become a Junior Ranger: On April 18, visitors can celebrate National Junior Ranger Day by taking part in special family friendly activities at many national parks.
  • Attend a Star-studded Party: Marvel at the incredible dark night sky found in many national parks. Many parks host astronomy programs and star viewing opportunities during National Park Week. Grand Canyon National Park is hosting a Star Party June 13-20.
  • Take part in the #FindYourParkInstaMeet: From 2-4 p.m. EDT on April 19, parks across the country will participate in the Find Your Park InstaMeet. You can join in the fun from wherever you are using the hashtags #FindYourParkInstaMeet and #FindYourPark and tagging @NationalParkService and @GoParks on Instagram.
  • Celebrate Earth Day: This year is the 45th anniversary of Earth Day , and national parks are some of the best places to honor the day.
  • Join the Revolution: Participate in three days of events at Minute Man National Historical Park to commemorate the anniversary of the start of the American Revolutionary War. Events include battle demonstrations, musket firings, drills, battle demonstrations, speeches and other ceremonies.
  • Be a VIP (Volunteer in Park): Lend a hand to care for your parks.

Ed. note: Video broadcast correction: National Parks Week begins Saturday, as indicated in this report.

Love Your Park Week is moving home

Love Your Park Week is the annual springtime celebration of Philly parks. This year, Philadelphians are encouraged to celebrate from the comfort and safety of their homes . Love Your Park @ Home takes place Saturday, May 9 to Sunday, May 17.

Each day, Love Your Park @ Home will offer free park-themed activities for the whole family. The fun includes virtual bike and history tours, gardening tutorials, and much more.

This time last year, more than 100 park volunteer groups were planning clean-up days and special events in many of Philadelphia’s parks. While that’s not possible this year, we want you to know your parks are still here for you.

During Love Your Park @ Home, each day’s activities will center around a specific theme. The themes, and a sample of the programming for the day, are:

  • Saturday, May 9: Nature
  • Sunday, May 10: Family
  • Monday, May 11: Park pride
  • Tuesday, May 12: Arts
  • Wednesday, May 13: Community
  • Thursday, May 14: History
  • Friday, May 15: Play
  • Saturday, May 16: Wellness
  • Sunday, May 17: Gardening and greening

Love Your Park @ Home is hosted by Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

The National Recreation and Parks Association

The end of the year is a great time to make a plan and work towards a healthier and happier 2017 and perhaps this year you’ll consider something new! Why not think about setting resolutions that you can achieve in your local parks and rec?

Your Top Park and Rec Stories of 2016

By Catrina Belt | Posted on December 28, 2016

Before we head into the new year, let’s look back on the stories that mattered the most to you. Here are the top stories from the field in 2016.

What Americans Think About Walking to Parks

By Melissa May | Posted on December 22, 2016

Those boots are made for walkin’, but can they get you to your local park or recreation center?

Holiday Inspiration

By Roxanne Sutton | Posted on December 20, 2016

While some people are reflecting on the negatives of the past year, parks and recreation has many positive reflections to offer from this past year.

Getting To Know Rep. Tom Price

By NRPA Public Policy Team | Posted on December 16, 2016

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is slated to be the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — here's how that might affect parks and rec.

Buckle Up. Latest on the Make-Up of the New Trump Administration

By NRPA Public Policy Team | Posted on December 15, 2016

The transition efforts for President-elect Trump’s administration are well underway, and many questions remain as to what type of administration we can expect to see on our priority issues.

The Public Agrees: Parks and Recreation Are Vital to Healthy Communities

By Kevin Roth | Posted on December 12, 2016

Recently released NRPA data finds that the American public wholeheartedly agrees that health and wellness should be a priority of their park and recreation agencies and strongly support actions consistent with this message.

29: Number of Times Americans Visit Their Local Parks Annually

By Daniel Espada | Posted on December 8, 2016

Among the top-level findings in the engagement survey is the fact that Americans visit their local parks and recreation facilities an average of 29 times per year.

What You Had to Say About the 2016 NRPA Annual Conference

By Melissa May | Posted on December 2, 2016

Year after year, we here at NRPA continue to learn, grow and improve using the feedback we receive from our Annual Conference Attendee Survey. This year is no different. Here is what you said.

Bringing Nature to Kids in Urban Environments

By Robert Carmona | Posted on December 1, 2016

This summer my staff and I were lucky enough to pilot NRPA’s Wildlife Explorers program at a few of our sites in Miami Dade County.

Who Participates in Summer Park and Rec Programs?

By Melissa May | Posted on November 30, 2016

The NRPA Research Team released the results of the Americans’ Engagement with Parks survey in October at this year’s NRPA Annual Conference in St. Louis.

Overtime Rule Delayed Indefinitely

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on November 29, 2016

A federal judge in Texas issued a temporary injunction against the Obama administration’s looming overtime rule. In short, this means that employers across the country will no longer be responsible for complying with the overtime rule.

5 Tips for a Healthier Holiday Season

By Allison Colman | Posted on November 18, 2016

You may be thinking, “How can I make this holiday season a little bit healthier?” Don’t worry, NRPA has got you covered. Check out these five tips.

What the 2016 Election Means for Conservation and Green Infrastructure in the 115th Congress

By NRPA Public Policy Team | Posted on November 16, 2016

President-elect Donald J. Trump has outlined an ambitious agenda for his first 100 days covering issues focused primarily on immigration, national defense, job creation and security, and infrastructure.

People Celebrate Park Funding and Equal Access L.A. County Measure A

By Robert García and Cesar De La Vega | Posted on November 15, 2016

People across Los Angeles County are celebrating the recent passage of Measure A, the Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks and Beaches Protection Measure of 2016. Measure A is expected to generate approximately $94 million per year for local parks, beaches and green space areas, replacing previous voter-approved park funds that were running out.

What the 2016 Election Means for Workplaces in the 115th Congress

By NRPA Public Policy Team | Posted on November 14, 2016

Now that the November elections are behind us, we can dive further into President-elect Trump’s ideas to update the tax code, overturn certain workplace regulations, and empower families. Below you’ll find a quick overview of President-elect Trump’s plans to increase wages, lower taxes, and cut through red tape.

What the 2016 Election Means for Healthcare in the 115th Congress

By NRPA Public Policy Team | Posted on November 14, 2016

Now that the November elections are behind us, we can look a little further into President-elect Trump’s healthcare plans and dive into his ideas about keeping Americans healthy. Below, you’ll find a quick overview of President-elect Trump’s plans for the ACA and healthcare integration during the next administration. This note only scratches the surface of what issues may arise during the upcoming Congress, but it’s clear that park and recreation agencies’ preventative health efforts will continue to play a critical role as the next administration works to provide better care at a lower cost for all Americans.

A Park Superintendent, NRPA Board Member and Immigrant’s Take on the Election Results

By Jesús Aguirre | Posted on November 14, 2016

Many of us awoke on Wednesday with some sense of bewilderment about the national election results. As an immigrant to this country from Mexico, as the father of two teen-aged boys and of a daughter with significant special needs, I continue to struggle with understanding how to reconcile the results of a campaign that very overtly brought hateful, racist, misogynist, nationalist, and xenophobic language into our daily existence. On a personal level, I continue to struggle with that.

What You Need to Know about the Election and Park and Rec

By NRPA Public Policy Team | Posted on November 4, 2016

After nearly two years of speeches, interviews, town halls, primaries and caucuses, Americans of all stripes will soon participate in our grand democratic tradition and cast their votes for President, Congress, and various local candidates and referenda. For many Americans, the days remaining before we head to the polls must seem like an eternity and can’t come soon enough. But, for the NRPA Public Policy Team, this is our Super Bowl which – in the case of electing a President – only occurs once every four years.

EPA Environmental Justice Action Agenda: Major Steps Forward, and Opportunities for More

By Robert García | Posted on November 4, 2016

Robert García, NRPA Board Member, Founding Director and Counsel of The City Project, and guest writer Marianne Engelman Lado, Clinical Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Senior Staff Attorney at Earthjustice, share their insight and expertise on the impact of the EPA’s EJ 2020 Action Agenda on civil rights and environmental justice.

Four Things I Learned Being a Conference Speaker

By Kirsten Barnes | Posted on November 3, 2016

Speaking has offered me an opportunity to attend conferences that might otherwise not have received budget approval, and it has given me an opportunity to meet some amazing people who have become mentors and lifelong friends. What I didn’t anticipate was how the process of writing a session proposal, preparing to present and connecting with my peers would truly impact me as a professional.

What Community Resilience is All About

By Roland Richardson | Posted on November 3, 2016

Across the country, park and recreation agencies play a critical role in fostering the type of community cohesion that is necessary for building resilient communities.

Q&A: What is Wildlife Explorers?

By National Recreation and Park Association | Posted on November 2, 2016

Not having staff with environmental expertise or experience is a real challenge facing park agencies. But we all know that engaging kids in nature is vital for the future sustainability of planet. So NRPA worked with partners to create a truly accessible nature program that addresses some of these key barriers – Wildlife Explorers was born.

Make the Case for Environmental Education

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on October 26, 2016

Today, NRPA members are joining education advocates and families around the country and asking Congress to provide the highest level of funding possible for better schools, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming, and hands-on, environmental education at park and recreation agencies.

Top 5 Education Session Submission Secrets

By Tom Crosley | Posted on October 25, 2016

Now is the time for you to submit your ideas for an education session for the 2016 NRPA Annual Conference. Here are five tips for submitting a successful education session proposal.

Conference Reflections: It’s About Building Community

By Kirk W. Kincannon, CPRP | Posted on October 21, 2016

Kirk W. Kincannon, CPRP, AAPRA, Executive Director of the Fairfax County Park Authority, reflects on his time spent at the 2016 NRPA Annual Conference and how the lessons learned can be brought home to make a positive transformation in our communities.

Conservation and Volunteer Lessons Learned from Seattle Parks and Recreation

By Roland Richardson | Posted on October 3, 2016

In August, the NRPA conservation team took a trip to the rainy city to meet with staff from Seattle Parks and Recreation, and tour several of the city’s most iconic parks.

Congress Is in Recess Until the Election: Now What?

By Dave Tyahla | Posted on September 30, 2016

With just two days left before a potential government shutdown, both the House and Senate approved a short-term spending package on September 28, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), that will keep the federal government running on autopilot through December 9, 2016.

Coastal Justice Brings California Coastal Commission Closer to Serving All Californians

By Robert García | Posted on September 29, 2016

On Saturday, September 24, Governor Jerry Brown signed a coastal justice law that amends the California Coastal Act. This law explicitly requires compliance with and enforcement of civil rights and environmental justice laws.

Zika Update #3: Preventing the Spread of Zika through Mosquito Control

By Richard J. Dolesh | Posted on September 19, 2016

The Zika virus has begun to spread in the U.S. through transmission by mosquito bites. Browse recommendations for what you can do if Zika is suspected or confirmed in your local area.

Physical (In)Activity and the School Day

By Melissa May | Posted on September 12, 2016

As schools become increasingly focused on test performance, the amount of time devoted to in-school physical activities has declined or even been cut altogether.

Back in Session: Where does Congress Stand on Park and Recreation Issues

By Dave Tyahla | Posted on September 9, 2016

Congress returned from August recess this week and got to work on several important bills--an effort to fund a response to the Zika crisis, an energy reform package which includes permanent LWCF reauthorization, and legislation to keep the federal government funded, and operating, beyond September 30.

Creating Safe Routes to Parks Through National and Local Partnerships

By Rachel Banner | Posted on August 31, 2016

NRPA has worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote the Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking and Walkability. Through this work we created the Safe Routes to Parks initiative.

What Parks and Recreation Can Do About Equity

By Kevin O'Hara | Posted on August 22, 2016

Portland&#39s city and parks department has recognized that addressing racial disparities is the single largest equity challenge facing their increasingly diverse city.

Support Each Other Through Trial

By Barbara Tulipane, CAE | Posted on August 18, 2016

Park and recreation departments are often at the heart of natural disasters. Recreation centers serve as shelters, parks serve as gathering places, and park and recreation employees and volunteers serve as aid workers, support staff and community leaders.

Pokémon Go a Hit in College Station, TX

By Gerry Logan, CPRE | Posted on August 10, 2016

Pokémon Go has been sweeping the nation as those who grew up playing the original version are congregating by the thousands to “Catch ‘Em All.” How has your agency has taken advantage of Pokémon Go?

From Inspiration to Action

By Kevin Roth | Posted on August 5, 2016

Whether catching a ballgame at a local stadium or viewing sports coverage on television, tens of millions of Americans will be watching athletic competition this August.

How to Rally the Troops

By Marla Collum | Posted on August 5, 2016

The Troops for Fitness program now offers a “how-to” guide that brings together a variety of feedback and approaches on topics such as how to recruit veterans and what classes have proven to be most popular and why.

Outlook Unclear for Policy Priorities as Congress Adjourns Until September

By David Tyahla | Posted on August 2, 2016

We’re in the heart of another hot and humid summer in Washington, DC. These conditions are sure to produce one thing — Congress leaving for its summer break.

Harnessing the Pokémon Go Phenomenon

By Linda Oakleaf | Posted on July 27, 2016

Pokémon Go. It’s been top of mind for park and recreation professionals since its launch recently. In case you’ve missed the finer details, here’s the gist.

Zika Update #2: Protection for Outdoor Workers

By Richard J. Dolesh | Posted on July 22, 2016

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently posted zika toolkits — information on how to prevent the Zika virus from being transmitted in outdoor settings.

Turning to Data to Power Parks and Rec

By Kevin Roth | Posted on July 19, 2016

Park and recreation professionals face difficult decisions on how to best serve their constituents tight fiscal restraints – all while delivering valuable services that meet the needs of all community members.

A Fresh Look for NRPA

By Matt Brubaker | Posted on July 18, 2016

Here's the blog announcement that you've been holding your breath for. The National Recreation and Park Association has official updated their logo!

What Americans Are Doing in Your Community This Summer

By Kevin Roth | Posted on July 6, 2016

Americans look to their local park and recreation agency to be the leading source of fun and exciting summertime events.

Tell Congress to #MoveOnZika So Parks and Rec Can Do Their Part

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on July 5, 2016

Park and recreation agencies will be critical in the effort to contain and prevent mosquito populations in many communities. We need you to tell Congress to #MoveOnZika.

Park Champions: Uniting Communities and Increasing Diversity

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on June 23, 2016

The city of Gaithersburg, MD took an innovative approach to participating in NRPA’s Park Champion initiative. A naturalization ceremony was incorporated into the Celebrate! Gaithersburg Festival.

How to Celebrate Park and Recreation Month at Your Agency

By Cathy Guerra | Posted on June 9, 2016

Park and Recreation Month helps park and rec agencies to share a unified message: the role of parks and recreation in health and wellness, conservation and social equity.

How to Help Children Receive Free Summer Meals

By Kellie May | Posted on June 8, 2016

With support from the Walmart Foundation, NRPA helped local park and rec agencies serve over 20 million meals to children in low-income communities.

How Americans Will Spend Their Time Outside This Summer

By Kevin Roth | Posted on June 6, 2016

NRPA asked 1,000 American adults about their favorite summertime outdoor activities. Virtually every answer they gave us are activities that happen at local public parks.

#GirlsAre Inspiring

By Daniel W. Hatcher,National Recreation and Park Association | Posted on May 26, 2016

The National Recreation and Park Association has joined the Alliance for a Healthier Generation (AHG) and the Clinton Foundation for the #GirlsAre Campaign.

Update on the Final Federal Regulations for Overtime Pay and Exempt Employee Status

By Dave Tyahla | Posted on May 24, 2016

The Obama administration recently released its highly anticipated final regulations and guidelines for the updated Fair Labor Standards Act’s (FLSA).

Congress Gets the Ball Rolling on Zika Funding

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on May 20, 2016

NRPA continues to work with members of Congress on both sides of the isle to advocate for the highest level of funding possible for the Zika response.

Key Findings from Survey on Zika and Summer Outdoor Plans

By Kevin Roth | Posted on May 20, 2016

The Zika virus has been in the headlines over the past few months and it appears that one in four Americans are or will be changing their outdoor plans this summer as a result.

Join the Fight Against Arthritis

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on May 6, 2016

In an effort to improve the lives of the 53 million people suffering from Arthritis, NRPA is working partners and public health advocates to spread the word that May is National Arthritis Awareness Month.

Zika Virus Update: New Potential Northward Spread Feared

By Richard J. Dolesh | Posted on May 2, 2016

For the first time, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Zika virus has been found in a species of mosquito other than the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

7 Tips for Preventing Child Abuse at Summer Camps

By Editor | Posted on April 28, 2016

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and with planning for summer camps in full swing, now is a good time to think about how your camps can help spot and prevent child abuse.

One Step Closer to Making LWCF Permanent

By David Tyahla | Posted on April 25, 2016

Recently, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a comprehensive energy reform package (S. 2012) which includes permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act” Not Worthy of the Name

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on April 22, 2016

The Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act will cut the number of kids parks and recreation agencies feed during the summer and impose costs on our summer meals programs.

Using Art to Connect Kids to Nature

By Richard J. Dolesh | Posted on April 18, 2016

The Get to Know program, an art contest that encourages kids to connect with nature, was founded in part with the support of internationally famous wildlife artist, Robert Bateman.

Diverse Field, Common Mission

By Kevin Roth | Posted on April 7, 2016

The 2016 NRPA Field Report is the most comprehensive resource of data and insights for park and recreation agencies in the United States.

5 Reasons to Hike with Your Kids

By Jessica Culverhouse | Posted on March 30, 2016

Make a pledge to take your child out to hike in a park on May 21 for National Park Trust’s Kids to Parks Day.

Your #ParkVote Makes a Difference

By Morgan Rothermel | Posted on March 30, 2016

NRPA collaborated with The Walt Disney Company, including Disney Citizenship, Disney|ABC Television Group and ESPN during Earth Month to create lasting impacts for 16 communities.

If You Invite Them, They Will Come

By Jayni Rasmussen | Posted on March 25, 2016

NRPA is excited to build on the successes and lessons learned during the summer of Park Champion advocacy by expanding the initiative to a year-round movement.

New Federal Funding Opportunity: $15 million to Develop Urban Outdoor Recreation Spaces

By Dave Tyahla | Posted on March 11, 2016

The National Park Service (NPS) Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program (ORLP) targets recreation spaces in urban communities.

Your Award-Winning Magazine (and More)

By NRPA MarComMag Team | Posted on March 10, 2016

NRPA recently won six awards, including the coveted Publisher's Choice Award for best overall entry, in the Association TRENDS 2015 All-Media Contest.

National Awards: A Great Way to Honor the Village

By Atuya O. Cornwell | Posted on March 1, 2016

Since receiving the Robert W. Crawford Young Professional Award, I have been able to share my story as a park and recreation professional with a larger audience.

Red and Blue Make. Green

By David Tyahla | Posted on February 26, 2016

One area that voters of all party or political affiliations continue to agree on is the value of local public parks and recreation service — and we have the numbers to prove it!

The PHIT Act: Making Fitness Part of Routine Healthcare

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on February 23, 2016

Prioritizing funds for physical activity can be a serious challenge for many Americans.

Infographic: 2 Years of Fostering Healthy Kids

By Kellie May | Posted on February 18, 2016

NRPA recently marked the two year anniversary of the Commit to Health campaign.

What the President’s Budget Means for Parks and Rec

By NRPA Public Policy Team | Posted on February 12, 2016

NRPA’s Public Policy Team looked into the major provisions of the President’s budget, which, if enacted by Congress, would be mostly positive for NRPA members and the communities we serve.

How Much Do You Know About Your Agency’s Facilities?

By Kevin Roth | Posted on February 4, 2016

NRPA's Facility Market Reports offer park and recreation professionals key data and insights about the market served by their agency’s park and recreation facilities.

Make 2016 the Summer of Opportunity!

By Allison Colman | Posted on February 3, 2016

NRPA recently attended a meeting at USDA headquarters to explore innovative ideas in the fight against childhood hunger. Learn about some of the best strategies for parks and recreation.

Keeping California’s Beaches Open For All

By Robert García | Posted on February 1, 2016

California has the largest and most diverse system of state parks and cultural sites in the nation. For 40 years, the California Coastal Act has helped ensure beach access is open to all.

Ready, Set, Go Gold!

By Brenda Beales | Posted on January 26, 2016

Awards season is here and it’s time to get busy on that Gold Medal Award application!

Child Nutrition Reauthorization: The Senate’s Vision for Feeding Hungry Children

By Oliver Spurgeon III | Posted on January 26, 2016

The Senate Agriculture Committee recently introduced the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act–better known as the Child Nutrition Reauthorization (CNR).

Improve Your Agency's Performance in Just 15 Minutes

By Kevin Roth | Posted on January 25, 2016

NRPA's Field Report is a comprehensive collection of detailed park and recreation agency data, presenting information about local and regional park agencies and state park systems in the United States.

10 Ways to Get Fit in Your Local Parks and Rec in 2016

By Allison Colman | Posted on January 22, 2016

The New Year’s Eve resolution made most—by 69 percent of people in 2015—was to get fit and healthy, lose weight, and keep the weight off.

5 Key Takeaways from Park Support Study

By Kevin Roth | Posted on January 19, 2016

NRPA's recent research report shows that Americans are passionate about their local parks.

How to Use the Economic Impact of Local Parks to Your Advantage

By Melissa May | Posted on January 15, 2016

NRPA's Economic Impact of Local Parks report details how public parks are economic engines to their communities.

Fireflies. Lightning bugs. Glow-worms. Just the names alone are enough to stir the hearts of kids anywhere, and perhaps even incite a little passion in adults as well. There is something magical about venturing out at dusk and seeing a field full of gently pulsing lights in the grass and in the forest, beckoning you even further into the night to discover its mysteries. It is no exaggeration to say that a large part of discovering the wonder of nature for many people began when they saw fireflies as kids. Fireflies display one of nature’s most intriguing phenomena — bioluminescence, that is, the emission of cold light by living organisms. Cold light in fireflies and other species is produced by a light-emitting molecule, called luciferin, which is activated by an enzyme called luciferase.

While bioluminescence is not common in terrestrial environments, it is abundant in the sea. More than three quarters of marine organisms display some form of bioluminescence for communicating, finding prey and even camouflaging themselves.

But on land, in early and mid-summer, it’s fireflies that put on the show.

What Are Fireflies?
Fireflies are not flies at all, but beetles that are mostly nocturnal flying members of the Lampyridae family, which also includes glow-worms and the tortuously named daytime dark fireflies that don’t flash at all in the night, but rather attract their mates in the day by powerful chemical pheromones. There are about 2,000 species of fireflies worldwide, and approximately 170 species are found within North America. Most occur east of the Rockies, but there are some species that occur in the West as well.

Fireflies, like all beetles, undergo a full metamorphosis during their life cycle — egg, pupa, larva and adult. This is a cycle that might last from a couple of months to a couple of years. During the larval phase, fireflies prey on soft-bodied invertebrates, such as worms and grubs, which they find in leaf litter and moist soils until they pupate into adults in the late spring or early summer. They may only live a few weeks to mate and begin the cycle all over again.

Some firefly species don’t flash as adults, but in others, the flightless adult females produce a long-lasting, continuous glow to attract mates. Most species, however, exchange flashes during dark hours to find their mates — the male flies about and flashes in a particular pattern, while the female perched on tall grasses or tree branches signals her receptiveness with a brief flash.

Flashing patterns vary substantially, but one species, Photinus carolinus, puts on one of the most fascinating light shows in nature — synchronous flashing in which all the adult fireflies flash at the same time. This natural spectacle only occurs in a couple of locations in the United States. In the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, it has become so popular that visitors hoping to see it can only gain access to that area of the park by annual lottery.

Threats to Fireflies
A new study, titled “A Global Perspective on Firefly Extinction Threats,” published in the February 2020 issue of the journal BioScience, reports the results of a survey of international firefly experts who were asked to identify the greatest threats to firefly populations in eight geographic regions of the world. The most serious threats to fireflies, according to these scientists, were loss of habitat, light pollution and pesticides, with drought, flooding and extreme temperatures as lesser, but still very significant, threats. Unsurprisingly, a number of these factors link to climate change conditions.

The greatest threats in the eastern United States, which is the area of North America with the greatest number of species of fireflies, involve habitat destruction. “The loss of firefly habitat occurs mainly through urbanization and commercial and residential development,” the report states.

Artificial light at night, called ALAN, is a major form of manmade light pollution and the second-most serious threat to fireflies. Because most firefly species depend on flash dialogues between the male and female for courtship, light pollution interferes with mating success.

Pesticide use, ranked as the third-most serious threat, is also the least understood cause of the decline of fireflies. There are few comprehensive studies investigating the impacts of insecticides and herbicides on the larval and adult forms of fireflies. Candace Fallon, senior conservation biologist for the Xerces Society, says that there are few firefly-monitoring programs in the United States. “There are so many holes in our knowledge,” she says. “There is a lot we don’t know.”

Parks Can Help Save Fireflies
In interviewing several firefly experts for this article, there was one thing they all agreed on: Parks may be one of the best ways to contribute to firefly conservation. Emeritus professor of entomology Larry Buschman of Kansas State University, the author of Field Guide to Western North American Fireflies, says, “People love to visit where fireflies are. They are a charismatic species of wildlife. When people get out to appreciate and value fireflies in parks, then we can get conservation going. And when we do, we can help educate the public as well.”

Fallon agrees. “Fireflies are in trouble,” she says. “They need conservation. Parks have a lot of opportunity to conserve fireflies. The greatest threat to fireflies is loss of habitat and degradation of existing habitat. The most important thing we can do to conserve fireflies is to protect and restore habitat.”

Some park agencies already are working to conserve fireflies and educate the public about them. Katrina Arnold of Five Rivers MetroParks in Dayton, Ohio, says they have an extensive program for families that engages children and youth in firefly education and conservation. Their free program, funded by the Cox Arboretum Foundation, is offered to kids ages 3 to 13. The program has three phases, beginning with the Discover level. It progresses to the Act level, in which kids participate in Firefly Watch, a citizen science program. The third level, Share, is designed to get kids excited about conservation in an active way “without feeling nerdy,” according to Arnold. They are encouraged to come back to the program, talk to other kids about what they learned and share their stories. The agency has received great feedback from participating families for this innovative program.

Bill Hagenbuck, senior park naturalist at Martin Park Nature Center in Oklahoma City, says they used to offer very well-
attended firefly hikes in June and July each year, but in recent years, they had to stop because there was a sharp decline in firefly numbers. The 144-acre park, which features a nature center, was an old dairy farm with a variety of habitats, including a mix of open meadows and forested areas. “It seems it would be just about [an] ideal habitat for fireflies,” Hagenbuck says. However, the park has become “an encapsulated oasis in the city.” Today, a turnpike, apartment buildings, a large medical building and a residential neighborhood surround the park. Hagenbuck says they hope to restore fireflies to the park by increasing quality habitats for them. One method they are trying includes prescribed burns to eradicate Johnson grass, a noxious weed that has taken over some of the grasslands in the park. “We are hoping to bring back our firefly programs,” he says. “They were extremely popular and maxed out every time we offered them. People just don’t get a chance to do something like that anymore.”

In Arlington County, Virginia, however, it is another story, according to Rachael Tolman, park naturalist. For 10 years, they have conducted an annual firefly festival with crafts and games and exhibits about fireflies. For the 250 to 500 people who attend this extremely popular festival, a firefly watching party follows the daytime portion of the event. Tolman notes, “We are super urban, but we try to keep diversified habitats in our parks, which benefit firefly populations.” Their resource management goals include creating new habitat areas, removing invasive plant species and managing to allow the native landscape and plants to recover. “If we are doing best practices for fireflies, we are doing best practices for all wildlife,” she says.

Conserving Fireflies and Educating the Public
If firefly conservation in parks is to be successful, education must be an essential component of your conservation objectives. Park and recreation agencies already engaging in successful firefly conservation activities also have committed to public education and awareness activities in nature centers, on night hikes and in educational exhibits.

Knowledge of the firefly species you have in your locality is critical, especially if you plan to begin any longer-term conservation efforts. This may not be as simple as it sounds and if there isn’t knowledgeable staff, agencies should look for firefly experts in the ranks of their citizen volunteers and at local universities. Hiring a consultant may be a good course of action to help you locate best habitat areas, identify the species in your locale and to assist in drafting a management plan, especially if you do not have those capabilities and knowledge in-house.

Buschman, who has studied fireflies for decades, says he has a pet peeve. “Public agencies put curfew restrictions on parks, so that people cannot enter after dark. We cannot get people interested in watching fireflies and then prohibit them from watching them!” He lobbies to keep parks open longer, at least during the peak time of firefly courtship. There is a lot of truth to what he says. Educating the public about watching wildlife at night means we might have to add limited public access after dark to any management plan along with other objectives.

Creating Ideal Firefly Habitats
What should ideal firefly habitats look like in parks? It depends on the biogeographical characteristics of your parks, but four or five things are necessary, according to Fallon. “Ideally, you should have varied habitats within your parks that are a little wild, not manicured. It depends on the firefly species you have locally, too. Some like open meadows some need forested land. You still need diversity within those habitats and micro-habitats within those,” she says. “Dark nights are important!” It is one reason she believes parks are ideal places for fireflies to thrive. However, park managers need to evaluate their outdoor lighting and consider what lights might be reduced or turned off during firefly mating season.

Quality habitats can vary quite a bit, but year-round moisture is essential, according to all firefly experts consulted. Whether it is moist woods, stream valley floodplains, non-tidal wetlands or even wet meadows — moisture is critical, especially for the juvenile stages. Fallon and others speculate that prolonged droughts in the West and Southwest may be seriously affecting firefly populations, which are prone to desiccation, that is, the severe drying out of larval and adult stages, in extremely dry conditions.

Pesticides may be a serious threat to fireflies, but few studies have been conducted. Many park agencies are moving toward a much more thoughtful and limited use of pesticides. The use of weed-killing herbicides, such as Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides, have generated intense public interest and opposition due to fear of human health impacts and effects on the environment. Integrated Pest Management programs are limiting the amount and type of pesticides applied in parks, and many agencies are looking for organic herbicides and flame and foam (steam) treatments that are less toxic. All these actions to reduce pesticide use can only help the cause of firefly conservation.

Conserving fireflies in parks will address several conservation objectives. It will enhance habitat for species that are in need of conservation. It will provide exciting new opportunities for staff and citizen science volunteers to explain a part of the natural world to the public — something that will slip away forever, unless we take effective action now to save it from disappearing. And, it is the right thing to do for these mysterious, elusive species that enrich the lives of all who see them flashing in the darkness of night and leave us wondering why and how they do.

Tune in to the April bonus episode of Open Space Radio to hear Dolesh and Michele White of NRPA’s conservation team talk about managing parks for fireflies and engaging the public at the Open Space website or on your favorite podcast app.

Watch the video: Χειμερινοί Κολυμβητές - Από το Πάρκο στη Μυροβόλο (February 2023).