How States Are Improving Accessibility for Parks and Trails

State parks are introducing adaptive mobility devices to help more visitors enjoy natural spaces.

1 minute read

November 21, 2023, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Sign showing accessible hiking trail sign with blurred forest in background.

Szabi / Adobe Stock

Writing in Governing, Tom Peterson outlines the effort states are making to make more parks and cultural resources accessible to residents with mobility challenges.

“In Minnesota, such efforts got a significant boost earlier this year when legislators funded the Department of Natural Resources’ $149.9 million Get Out MORE (Modernize Outdoor Recreation Experiences) initiative.” Visitors who want to see the Split Rock Lighthouse can now borrow all-terrain chairs that make Pebble Beach, a popular vista point, accessible to wheelchair users.

States including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa have launched similar initiatives to provide adaptive equipment and facilities like track chairs, cross-country sit skis, and modified kayak launches. “Some state parks also offer chairs that bring visitors onto beaches or even into the water. In several Massachusetts state parks, for example, visitors can use four-wheeled sunbathing chairs on the beach, or three-wheeled floating chairs in the ocean.”

The article adds, “As much as technological gains and new programs help, experts and advocates said improving access does not always require major expenditures. In reaching a community that long had no or limited access to outdoors recreation, communication is vital” to ensure people are aware of the mobility options available to them.

Thursday, November 16, 2023 in Governing

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