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Accessible trails

Accessible trails and recreation facility guidelines discussed

For current news on accessible trails and recreation issues, see www.AmericanTrails.org

From the Fall 2002 issue of Trail Tracks, the national newsletter of American Trails

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), trails and park facilities are intended to be made accessible to all Americans. The process of deciding what is accessible, and what standards to apply, has been a long one. Recreational trails pose a particular problem, because in most cases the trail itself is a unique experience, unlike standardized facilities like restrooms.

It has been three years since the final report on trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and beaches was submitted to the U.S. Access Board in Washington, DC. This group has authority under ADA to write guidelines for accessible facilities. The federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has looked at costs associated with the proposals over the last two years, and the Access Board expects to release a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the trail regulations sometime in 2003.

In August the OMB cleared the Recreation Facilities Accessibility Guidelines. The recreation facilities guidelines address amusement rides, boating facilities, fishing piers and platforms, golf courses and miniature golf, sports facilities, swimming pools, wading pools, and spas. It was expected to be published as a Final Rule by the Access Board in the Federal Register by the end of August.

On October 8, 2002, the Access Board is holding a public meeting in Portland, Oregon on guidelines it is developing on accessible public rights-of-way, which includes sidewalks, street crossings, and intersections.

These rules do not include trails outside of street rights-of-way, but would apply to trails within public street rights-of-way and to locations where trails cross public streets. The public may provide comment on draft guidelines the Board released last June. The guidelines, which are posted on the Board's Web site (see below), are available for public comment until October 28, 2002.

For more information on all of these accessible trails and recreation issues, see www.AmericanTrails.org. Click on "Resources & Library" and pick "Accessible Trails."

UTAP trail assessment classes and resources offered - see details and current schedule

American Trails and Beneficial Designs, Inc., continue to offer the Universal Trail Assessment Coordinator Workshops throughout North America each year. UTAP provides objective, accurate information about the conditions on a trail or in outdoor environments. The assessment results can help trail users determine whether a trail meets their interests and abilities. Land managers can also use the information to identify areas where access may be limited and to determine whether a trail complies with the proposed accessibility guidelines.

Location: Humber Arboretum, Toronto, Canada:

  • October 22-23, 2002 - Universal Trail Assessment Process Coordinator Workshop

Location: Orlando, Florida, in conjunction with the National Trails Symposium:

  • November 9-10 - UTAP Coordinator Workshop
  • November 10 - UTAP Update Clinic for Trail Assessment Coordinators
  • November 13 - TrailWare data-processing for UTAP data
  • November 14-15- UTAP Coordinator Workshop

Beneficial Designs will work with you to identify qualified trainers who can teach the workshop at your facility. Why not consider hosting a UTAP Coordinator Workshop?

For information on these and future UTAP workshops contact Kathy Mispagel, Trails Coordinator for Beneficial Designs, (831) 429-8447 ext. 113; fax (831) 423-8450 or e-mail: kathy@beneficialdesigns.com.

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