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September 10, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Combine kids’ love of electronics with the outdoors, throw in some prizes and an online nature journal and just like that, you have them outside discovering the beauty of nature.

That’s the concept behind TRACK Trails, a new system that County Parks and Recreation is bringing to California and the west coast for the first time.

The grand opening for the trails system took place at San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve in Cardiff on Saturday.

“While we are celebrating the grand opening of this TRACK Trails system here in Cardiff, families can also take their children to Lindo Lake and Louis Stelzer County Parks in Lakeside to see this new way of discovering the outdoors,” said County Supervisor Dave Roberts. “They can use smart phones right on the trail to log on to a website and mark their progress in a nature journal to win prizes or wait until they get back home to get online.”

The TRACK Trails program is part of the national Kids in Parks campaign designed to help children find fun ways to explore the natural beauty of our parks. The system features kiosks on the trail with brochures on turning an ordinary hike into an adventure. The program is already big in North Carolina, Virginia, South Dakota and the District of Columbia.

“It’s tough these days to get kids to step away from their electronics,” said County Parks and Recreation Director Brian Albright. “If you can use an electronic device like a smart phone to draw them outdoors, they’ll see for themselves everything County Parks has to offer.” 

A fundraiser at JIMBO’S…Naturally! grocery stores raised more than $15,000 and helped County Parks pay for the program. For more information about County parks, visit sdparks.org.

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