Staunton Parks & Rec wins Governor’s Award

staunton virginiaNatureRidge, Staunton’s natural playground, has earned the City a 2018 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award. The Staunton Parks & Recreation Department was one of 17 award winners recognized last week at the 29th Environment Virginia Symposium in Lexington.

The department began to research the development of a natural playground in Montgomery Hall Park in 2014, and it opened last year. The outdoor play space encourages children between the ages of 2 and 12 to explore the natural landscape and environmental play elements and interact in creative, imaginative ways. The NatureRidge natural playground is the first municipal natural playground in the region.

“We are honored and grateful to have received this award for the natural play area located in Montgomery Hall Park,” said Chris Tuttle, director of Staunton Parks & Recreation. “We appreciate the continued support from the Staunton community to make projects like this one possible.”

Play elements in the natural playground include a tunnel, amphitheater, gravel digging pit, dino dig sandbox, an elevated zig-zag balance beam, pirate ship, mud kitchen, an elevated sandbox and natural seating. Many of the elements are accessible to children with disabilities.

The playground is a public-private partnership success story. At least 30 civic organizations, businesses and individuals have contributed thousands of dollars to the venture, covering all building costs.

“This award belongs to everyone who has helped to make this playground a reality for our community,” said Claire Richardson, recreation manager.

Kids to Parks Day

Visit the natural playground from 2 to 5 p.m.May 19 for a Kids to Parks Day celebration. Kids to Parks Day is a nationwide celebration of the great outdoors organized by the National Park Trust. Participants will receive a free wildflower seed ball and a cookie (while supplies last).

About the Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards

The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards are a recognition of the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders in four categories: sustainability, environmental project, land conservation, and implementation of the Virginia Outdoors Plan. The awards are given to businesses and industrial facilities, not-for-profit organizations, and government agencies.


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