Park and Recreation Districts without Slacklining Policies Are Walking a Tightrope

Slackline

Slacklining is an adventure sport that has dramatically grown in popularity in recent years. If you’ve spent any time at a public park recently, you’ve most likely seen it already. Slacklining consists of a person walking a small, flat nylon rope that has been anchored between two points, which are most commonly trees.

As with any activity involving height and motion, there is a great deal of potential risk involved. Without the proper equipment, training and precautions in place, slackliners could easily fall, resulting in serious injury or even death.

Before districts decide to promote or even allow slacklining activities and other adventure sports in public parks, there are many things to consider. It’s a good idea to start by developing and implementing a district policy on slacklining to not only mitigate damage to prevent injuries, but also to protect public property.

Slacklining creates the potential for damage to tree bark and surrounding turf and landscape areas when it is repeatedly done in the same location. While it may seem insignificant, tree bark is vital for protecting a tree’s vascular system that carries nutrients throughout the entire tree. If not protected properly from regular slacklining use, the trees will show signs of ring bark damage and could eventually die as a result.

The Colorado School of Mines1 and the City of San Francisco2 have developed their own comprehensive policies regarding slacklining that may serve as models for Colorado park districts to design their own policies after.

First and foremost, it should be understood that slacklining participants and spectators take full responsibility for following the recommended guidelines and best safety practices. All participants and spectators assume any and all risk associated with slacklining activity. For participants, the risks include but are not limited to serious injury, paralysis and even death, and the use of safety “spotters” or crash pads is strongly recommended.

Slacklining is fun and novel, so it is understandably popular. If your park is offering or plans to offer slacklining, it’s a good idea to establish and adhere to these policies. This ensures that your park’s facilities are kept in good condition and that your patrons can safely engage in this activity, which could be a great source of revenue by charging patrons for facilities.

Below is a full list of sample policies your district could adapt for its own use. If your district already has a policy or any experiences with slacklining that you would like to share, let us know by emailing csdpool@mcgriff.com.

Here are 12 recommendations for you to consider when designing and implementing your district’s own slacklining policies:

  1. Slacklines may only be affixed temporarily and must be removed when not in use. The owner of the equipment is responsible for set up and removal by sunset and may not leave equipment unattended. Unattended slacklining equipment may be removed without notice.
  2. All equipment associated with the practice of slacklining should be maintained in an operable and safe condition. This is the sole responsibility of the participants. Officials may direct that equipment that appears to be unsafe or improperly set up be immediately removed.
  3. Slacklines may ONLY be setup between trees, AND NOT buildings, bike racks, handrails, play structures, art objects, fences, lamp posts, tables, or other structures.
  4. Lines may only be affixed to trees greater than 1 foot in diameter, and some type of fabric (e.g. burlap, carpet squares, or similar material) must be placed between the tree and the line tied to the tree in order to protect the tree’s bark.
  5. Trees may not be damaged in any way; no cutting of branches, bark, use of screws, nails, etc.
  6. Memorial trees or others posted by sign may not be used as anchors for this activity. Trees and/or landscaped areas showing damage from slacklining activities may be restricted from future use at the discretion of the Manager of Grounds, Facilities Management or their designee.
  7. The slackline may not exceed 50′ in total length and may not be elevated to more than 4′ in height at the center of the span. A clear, flat landing surface must be present under the full length of the slack line.
  8. Participants may not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while participating in any slacklining activities.
  9. Slacklines may not be set up within a special event zone.
  10. The center of a slackline may not be within 20′ of sidewalks, buildings, roads, streets, bikeways, water features, sport courts, bike racks, handrails, art objects, fences or light poles.
  11. Activities such as stunts or tricks involving flips are not permitted.
  12. At the direction of district officials, the activity must be curtailed and all equipment removed immediately for any reason district officials deem necessary.
Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.