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NRPA And Darden Foundation Partner To Preserve Great American Trails

Grant of $231,000 will support communities as they refurbish and update trails across the country

ASHBURN, Va. , Sept. 5 , 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has been awarded a $231,000 grant from the Darden Foundation to support the Great American Trails program, an effort of public parks and recreation to preserve America's trails and promote the benefits that trails provide to local communities. LongHorn Steakhouse, one of Darden's restaurant brands that operates more than 390 restaurants across the country, will engage their restaurant teams in this effort locally.

Public parks and recreation play an important role in the planning, development and promotion of the use of trails as a way to support conservation and environmental sustainability efforts while better connecting communities. Through the Great American Trails grant program, NRPA will work with eight communities on trail improvement projects that will enable them to continue this effort.

Trails across the United States contribute to a more interconnected community and foster active modes of transportation such as walking and biking. By their very nature, trails also protect, sustain and restore open space making communities more livable.  

"Our nation's trails are one of our greatest assets to improving quality of life and fostering more environmental sustainability," says Barbara Tulipane, president and CEO of NRPA. "We are thrilled to receive this grant from the Darden Foundation because the more we can do to encourage the use of trails  the better our communities will be."     

"At LongHorn, we believe in hard work and doing things the right way, part of which means giving back to the local communities we serve," says Dave George, President of LongHorn Steakhouse.   "Guests visit us to spend time with family and friends, and what better way to extend this idea beyond our restaurant than by providing support to help refurbish outdoor, public spaces for families to enjoy."

NRPA and the local LongHorn Steakhouse restaurant teams will work with the Great American Trails grantees on such projects as improving trail pathways, updating signs with historical and detailed trail information, native plant landscaping, providing bench and seating areas, installing drinking fountains, among many other improvements.

The Great American Trails grantees are:
  • Boston Parks and Recreation Department, Boston, MA
  • Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department, Murfreesboro, TN
  • Omaha Parks Foundation, Omaha, NE
  • Orange County Parks and Recreation Division, Orlando, FL
  • Round Rock Parks and Recreation Department, Round Rock, TX
  • Strongsville Recreation Department, Strongsville, OH
  • Sugar Land Parks and Recreation Department, Sugar Land, TX
  • Wichita Park and Recreation Department, Wichita, KS

For more information about the Great American Trails grant program, please visit or contact Jimmy O'Connor at

The National Recreation and Park Association is a national not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing park, recreation and conservation efforts that enhance quality of life for all people.   Through its network of 20,000 recreation and park professionals and citizens, NRPA encourages the promotion of healthy lifestyles, recreation initiatives, and conservation of natural and cultural resources.   For more information, visit .   For online access to NRPA's flagship publication, Parks & Recreation, visit .

The Darden Restaurants, Inc. Foundation is the charitable arm of Darden Restaurants, Inc. The Foundation's mission is to maintain a spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy as defining characteristics of Darden Restaurants. Since 1995, the Darden Foundation has awarded more than $60 million in grants, with $7.8 million given in fiscal year 2012. The Darden Foundation carries out its mission by focusing philanthropic efforts and resources on the following program areas: Access to Postsecondary Education, Preservation of Natural Resources and Good Neighbor Grants.

LongHorn Steakhouse opened its first restaurant in Atlanta in 1981 and today operates more than 390 restaurants in 36 states.   LongHorn is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE: DRI), the world's largest full-service restaurant operating company. For more information about LongHorn, please visit .

SOURCE National Recreation and Park Association

Copyright 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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