What is Parks and Recreation

What is Parks and Recreation?

Parks and recreation are resources and services provided for the purposes of leisure, entertainment, and recreational pursuits. Resources may be public spaces and facilities like parks, nature preserves, open space areas, greenways, trails, and built structures for sport, recreation, or arts programs. Examples of services include recreation activity programs, athletic leagues, special events, arts programs, and environmental education programs. 

The field of parks and recreation also encompasses resources and services offered by sector, though they are only delivered to members or paying visitors. Examples include YMCAs, health and fitness centers, resorts, and guide services.

There are also quasi-public providers like power companies, land trusts, and other authorities that manage resources that may be used for recreation purposes. An example in Connecticut is the MDC reservoir trail.


What is a public park?

A public park is any area or portions of areas dedicated or designated by any federal, state, or local agency primarily for public recreational use.

Public parks and recreation are provided at all levels of government: federal, state, and local.

  • Federal Agencies - National Park Service, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Army Corps of Engineers, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and resources and services provided at military bases.
  • State Agencies - Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Department of Natural Resources, State Parks, Fish and Game, and the State Historic Preservation Office.
  • Local Agencies - county/borough and municipal governments (city, town, township, village) governments, special park districts or authorities.



We get asked this question a lot: "Why is it Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association, Inc. and not Parks and Recreation?" When our national association (NRPA) was founded in 1965 through the merger of five (5) national organizations dedicated to the same cause, the recreation division or organization was larger than any of the other groups, so they received top billing. Pretty simple huh...

NRPA now has grown over the years - in total membership, in outreach efforts, in building partnerships, and in serving as the voice and defender of parks and recreation at the national level. To find out more about the National Recreation and Parks Association please visit: