Thought for today: Philippians 4:8 ..Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things..
Disclaimer: THERE IS NO ASSURANCE THAT ANY RESOURCE OR ACTIVITY I'VE FOUND OR DESCRIBE WILL BE AS 'ACCESSIBLE' AS YOU MIGHT NEED. Or information may be out of date. Use the information at your own risk.
I do hope you are enjoying the great outdoors. If you use a rolling walker, a wheelchair or mobility device, I hope you are going out and hiking trails, boating, fishing, viewing wildlife and so much more! I also hope you are willing to speak up to federal and state agencies regarding the need for more barrier-free recreation opportunities on public lands.
As an example of need, Shasta Trinity National Forest, has approximately 450 miles of trails. I estimate there are less than 2 or 3 miles (total combined) of wheelchair friendly paths (based on what information I can get from the Supervisor's office). Shasta Trinity has added a new section of a trail near Mount Shasta that is wheelchair friendly, but by and large such 'new' trail additions in Northern California National Forests are few and far between.
For example, take a look at this map of 45 MILES of proposed trail building within Shasta T. Do you see any plans for ANY wheelchair friendly trails? I sure don't. I didn't find out about this soon enough to comment so it's a missed opportunity for advocacy.
Don't think we mobility challenged folks are left out? Take a look at this USFS map of Lake Shasta - do you see any symbols for so much as an 'accessible' bathroom or picnic table? Only a wheelchair boating access symbol is shown. I do know that at least some of the campgrounds around Lake Shasta are wheelchair accessible, but they are not so designated on the map(s). Why not?
Shasta Trinity National Forest revised their list of accessible recreation facilities in late 2017 (after some correspondence.) So advocacy can produce change, and agencies are willing to make such changes. But first agencies have to know there are people interested in having changes occur, and what those changes entail in terms of work. So speak up.
Lassen National Forest's accessibility information is woefully out of date as of April 2018. Same for Klamath National Forest and Modoc. It's a systemic problem. I keep working on getting updates posted, with mixed results. I could use a little help.
This apparent lack of adherence by federal agencies to federal laws regarding creation of handicap access for disabled folks when building trails or enhancing recreational features (aka spending funds) is partly due to our voices not being raised during project planning phases. The legislation has been in effect and added to since 1968. Why isn't the legislation being followed?
I think we have to show up and speak up during any planning process. It's not that I want a 'paved world' because I don't. I think a wheelchair-friendly path is just fine. But I have a legal right to insist that some of that federal and state tax money being spent on recreation will make for at least some additional accessible-to-me options.
If you also want more wheelchair accessible and barrier-free recreation options, then you are going to have to quit sitting on the sidelines and get in the game. Become an advocate and SPEAK UP! Write letters. Be visible! Take action!
Here's some speaking and letter writing ammunition:
- American Trails information on Accessibility issues (not necessarily current)
- National Park Service Policies
- USDA/USFS Accessibility Guidelines
- ACCOMODATION OF MOBILITY DEVICES: Under the updated rules, covered entities must allow people with disabilities who use wheelchairs (including manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, and electric scooters) and manually-powered mobility aids such as walkers, crutches, canes, braces, and other similar devices into all areas where members of the public are allowed to go. [There are criteria for exceptions, but an agency can't deny legitimate use except for legitimate safety requirements]
- WILDERNESS AREAS: Wilderness areas represent special situations. This is described here: Essentially, a person needing a wheelchair can use one in a wilderness area, but at the same time, a wilderness area manager is not required to make any accommodation for such uses. However, this legislated lack of accommodation applies ONLY to designated wilderness areas.
Ready, set, GO ADVOCATE!