Carmel Clay Parks earns national environmental honor

Some of the grounds where the parks department hosts programs. (Submitted photo)

Some of the grounds where the parks department hosts programs. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation has nabbed another national honor.

The National Recreation and Park Association selected CCPR as the 2015 recipient of the Barb King Environmental Stewardship Award. CCPR won a National Gold Medal Award last year.

CCPR was recognized for planning and constructing environmentally sustainable parks and facilities, environmentally sensitive maintenance practices and offering an array of nature-focused programs for both youth and adults.

The award will be presented during a special ceremony at the 2015 NRPA Conference in Las Vegas on Sept. 17.

Michael Klitzing, CCPR chief operating officer, said, “Our commitment to the environment goes well beyond just the conservation of natural areas and extends into everyone we do.”

This is the seventh time the environmental stewardship award has been given to a parks and recreation agency. Among the winners were Phoenix in 2010, Boulder, Colo., in 2011 and San Diego in 2012. Carmel has the smallest population and fewest park acres among the seven winners.

“What is remarkable to me is that the past recipients are comprised of county park systems or cities well-known for their natural resources,” Klitzing said. “Traditionally, county park systems have the conservation of large land holdings as their primary, if not sole purpose, so environmental stewardship is almost a given for them. Obviously Boulder and Phoenix have mountains, something we will never have here in Carmel, which again affords them some opportunities we simply do not have based on our topography.

“That being said, what makes CCPR worthy of this award is how we have integrated environmental stewardship into so much of what we do: preservation of natural area, green-friendly development of parks and facilities, management and operations practices, partnerships such as with the Indiana Wildlife Federation, programming, etc.,” Klitzing said.

Leon Younger, a well-known parks and recreation management consultant, has worked with CCPR for more than 15 years.

Younger stated, “The agency’s commitment to conservation and environmental stewardship is among the finest I have seen based on my experience working with over 1,000 park and recreation agencies.”