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Forest Service Highlights Accessible Trails in Kicking off National Disabilities Employment Awareness Month in October

October has arrived which means cooler days, fall foliage and continued opportunities to hike on Forest Service trails. Families and friends enjoy hiking together, whether a person uses a wheelchair,  is pushing a young child in a baby stroller, or they are looking for more controlled grades to enjoy together on  trails that comply with the Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines.  People with and without disabilities enjoy recreating together. When one person in a group has a need for an accessible facility, the entire group seeks to recreate at that accessible facility together.

Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities.

Forest Service National Accessibility Program Manager Janet Zeller understands disability and the work being done by the National Forests and Grasslands across the U.S. to provide sustainable trails and other recreation opportunities that provide opportunities everyone can enjoy together.

Zeller recently visited the trails at Crotched Mountain in Greenfield, N.H.  The Crotched Mountain Foundation consulted the Forest Service for guidance on how to create a trail system on private, non-profit’s land. The Foundation wanted to preserve the natural setting while at the same time providing sustainable hiking trails that

would be open and usable by all.  The Forest Service is a leader in accessibility of outdoor recreation facilities.  The agency has over 20,000 accessible recreation units, such as campsites and picnic areas, and over 7,000 accessible recreation buildings across the National Forest System with more accessible facilities added each year to better serve all visitors.

Since enactment of the agency’s 1993 universal design policy, all new or altered Forest Service outdoor recreation sites and facilities are required to comply with the Forest Service accessibility direction first set forth in the agency’s Access to Outdoor Recreation, A Universal Design Guide. This is the strongest commitment to accessible outdoor recreation facilities of any federal, state or private entity.

Forest Service National Accessibility Program Manager Janet Zeller with Michael Redman, CEO of the Crotched Mt. Foundation on Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire.

Forest Service National Accessibility Program Manager Janet Zeller with Michael Redmond, Senior Vice President and COO of the Crotched Mountain Foundation on Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire.

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