Durangos Parks and Recreation Department has taken the gold medal for cities with fewer than 25,0000 residents.
The award from the National Recreation and Parks Association was presented Monday by Rod Tarullo, a judge and recreation director for the city of Golden, a former recipient of the award for its category.
Durango was recognized for conservation, development of amenities such as the Animas River Trail, its sustainability efforts and community collaboration.
Because of two designated sales taxes approved by voters in 1999 and 2005, the city has developed the river trail, the Durango Community Recreation Center and has preserved 2,639 acres of open space, including 1,128 acres acquired since 2005.
For energy conservation, the city has installed solar panels on the recreation center, which have saved 60 metric tons of yearly emissions. The rec center also uses energy-efficient light bulbs to reduce its annual natural-gas and electricity consumption by 16 percent.
The city has collaborated with community groups such as Trails 2000 and the Durango Winter Sports Foundation to develop more than 100 miles of natural-surface trails and to improve skiing conditions at Chapman Hill.
In response to the economic downturn, the recreation department changed its business model to recover 90 percent of its operating costs in 2010, 2011 and 2012.