San Diego’s First Public Nature Play Area: How Park and Recreation Made it Happen!

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ASLA online learning opportunities are open to all. ASLA members may purchase this presentation at a reduced rate.
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Children today face two challenges relating to open space and the outdoors: not only are open spaces shrinking, making nature less accessible, but children have lost the freedom to experience nature. Between safety concerns and the increased need to protect natural areas, children are often prohibited from unstructured play in nature.

In efforts to remove these barriers and provide more opportunities for children to access nature, many cities have sought to incorporate nature play areas into parks. Often public agencies and landscape architects are constrained by tight budgets and concerns of liability. Using San Diego’s first public nature exploration area as an example, this presentation will outline how to safely and economically develop innovative nature play sites within public parks. The City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department will share methods used, obstacles faced, and lessons learned in implementing the Morley Field Nature Exploration Area.
Distance Learning
Course Equivalency
Parks & Recreation
Health, Safety and Welfare
Learning Outcomes
1. Become familiar with how to adapt playground safety standards to nature play areas.
2. Understand strategies for site selection for effective and economical nature play sites.
3. Understand the obstacles and potential solutions in implementing a nature play area.
4. Gain insights into understanding and working with your agency or region's available resources to develop a successful nature play area.
Ilisa Goldman, ASLA; Shamli Tarbell
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American Society of Landscape Architects

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