Durango official to head state parks group

Cathy Metz, the city’s longtime parks and recreation director, has been elected president of the state Parks and Recreation Association. She wants to safeguard state funds that were used to acquire local amenities such as the Animas River Trail. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

Cathy Metz, the city’s longtime parks and recreation director, has been elected president of the state Parks and Recreation Association. She wants to safeguard state funds that were used to acquire local amenities such as the Animas River Trail.

Leslie Knopes, the politically ambitious city employee portrayed by Amy Poehler on the sitcom, “Parks and Recreation,” has nothing on Durango’s real-life parks and recreation director.

Cathy Metz recently was named president of the Colorado Parks and Recreation Association after serving two years as its president-elect and vice president.

“It’s a great honor,” Metz said. She now will “have a larger role advocating for parks and recreation on a statewide basis.”

The professional organization has about 1,000 members and represents the interests of more than 300 cities, counties and recreational districts.

Despite its name, the association is not all about fun and games. The group has a lobbyist to monitor legislation and look after its political interests in Denver.

In these tight economic times, “everybody is looking for opportunities of funding,” Metz said.

So the parks and recreation association tries to prevent raiding of the state’s lottery fund, which is the source of the Great Outdoors Colorado grants used by local governments to acquire public lands and build parks.

In another honor received by the city at a recent conference in Keystone, Durango was recognized with the Columbine Award in Innovation for Extraordinary Partnerships.

The city works with Fort Lewis College and local groups such as Trails 2000 and the Durango Winter Sports Foundation to do projects that the city otherwise could not afford.

Metz, the city’s parks and recreation director for the last 17 years, cited the multiuse playing fields at the college, improvements to Chapman Hill and soft trails on public lands as just a few examples of partnership projects.

“There’s over 100 miles of trail around Durango,” Metz said. “That’s really unusual to have that many trails around a town this size. So when people talk about Durango, they talk about it being a trail mecca. We wouldn’t have them without the partnership and assistance of Trails 2000.”

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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