Revitalized School Yard to Bring Safe, Green Space to Chiloquin Community

April 27, 2021
CHILOQUIN, Ore.

The Trust for Public Land, along with a coalition of partners and funders, is working to bring a vibrant, new schoolyard to the community of Chiloquin. The project aims to upgrade the existing playground equipment and outdoor facilities at Chiloquin Elementary school, which will be open to the public outside of school hours. 

“The community has faced much adversity over the past few years, which most recently includes 2020’s severe wildfires and the Covid-19 pandemic. This new schoolyard will be a special place not only for students to play outdoors, but for the community to have a place to gather and be together,” said Kristin Kovalik, Oregon Director of Land Conservation at The Trust for Public Land. “It’s an honor to work with the Chiloquin community to create a safe, and educational outdoor space where residents can recreate and connect with nature.” 

In September, the community was hit by the Two Four Two wildfire that devastated the area and forced residents in more than 600 homes to evacuate. The elementary school was used as a distribution center for food, water, and supplies donated by the Klamath Tribes. School staff and volunteers distributed food and helped neighbors extinguish fires.  The school staff was recently recognized by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) with a flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol for their efforts to help the community.  

The schoolyard at Chiloquin Elementary is currently under resourced, with few options for safe and healthy play. Involvement from students and the community involvement was integral to the design for the new space, which is set to include walking paths, a covered basketball court, outdoor classroom and restored meadow.  The school board has also approved use of the new space after school hours and on weekends, which helps address open space needs identified in a city survey. The space will incorporate plants and other features that require less water to maintain, saving water and helping to increase native wildlife habitat. Nearly every summer, local water use is limited to reserve water for the lakes that provide habitat for endangered suckerfish and more than 350 species of birds. 

The Trust for Public Land is now working with numerous partners including Chiloquin Visions in Progress, the City of Chiloquin, Oregon Health and Outdoors, the Klamath Tribal Council, teachers, students, and Chiloquin families to develop and implement the community’s vision for a vibrant, green, and welcoming schoolyard.  

The project is already more than half way towards its fundraising goal with early support from the Ann and William Swindells Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation and local community members. The Roundhouse Foundation and Nancy Nordhoff & Lynn Hays each made $100,000 gifts to create a $200,000 challenge grant to inspire others to join this important effort and leverage the additional funds needed to complete the schoolyard renovation.  

“The Chiloquin Schoolyard Project highlights what is possible when people join together and develop a broad ranging community call for action,” says Erin Borla, Executive Director and Trustee of the Roundhouse Foundation. “There is a critical need to support projects in rural spaces where creativity, ingenuity and community spirit runs high but capacity and financial support can lag behind.   Roundhouse is proud to support the multiple generations of involvement from the community of Chiloquin and The Trust for Public Land on this project and look forward to seeing the enhancement of communal space to elevate the entire community.” 

About The Trust for Public Land 

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org. 

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