MSPC has withdrawn its proposal to install a small rock scramble in the Ravine area of Bush’s Pasture Park, immediately downhill from the Crooked House playground. In our meeting with the City to discuss the project, we learned that the City does not have a ‘nature play” policy that would permit the installation of non-standard play equipment. Non-standard includes “equipment” such as boulders, logs, trees, and other natural objects.
“We’re certainly disappointed by this outcome,” said MSPC co-founder Gretchen Carnaby. “But we’ll keep this idea of a nature play option for the park alive through the master plan process,” she added.
What is nature play? The Oregon Nature Play Initiation offers this rather complex definition:
“Natural Play challenges and fascinates children and teaches them about the wonders and intricacies of the natural world while they explore and play within it. It is intuitive and unstructured, constructive (or deconstructive), and timeless, encouraging interaction with natural materials, features, indigenous vegetation, and creative landforms. Natural Play is often a blend of materials and experiences to create purposely complex interplays of natural and environmental objects.”
One of the best nature play facilities near Salem is the North Canyon Nature Play Areaat Silver Falls State Park.
A City parks planning staff member told us the City is considering developing a nature play policy but had no information on a timeline and process.
If you would like to learn more about nature play, the National Wildlife Federation has a helpful publication: Nature Play at Home.