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U.S. Forest Service National Honorees for Accessibility Accomplishments


Oakanogan Wenatchee National Forest


Group National Honor Winners



Juneau Ranger District Recreation Staff, Tongass National Forest
Mention the Juneau Ranger District in the Alaska Region and thoughts immediately turn to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, the first Forest Service facility of its kind in the United States. Recognizing the value of the experience of visiting Alaska’s most accessible glacier, the center was built as a recreational enhancement in 1962. Today, the glacier is Juneau’s premier attraction for half a million people from all over the world. The center has been modified to welcome persons of all abilities over the years, but the recreation staff also addressed barriers to surrounding trails. For example, the Trail of Time project adjacent to the center adds nearly a mile loop of barrier-free trail. Trail re-routes to correct grade, hardening of trail surfaces, enhanced interpretation of historic features, repair of historic structures, and an accessible observation platform have all combined to create a much more inviting opportunity for everyone. The recreation staff also added a new nearly one mile fully accessible route called the Nugget Falls Trail, which provides the closest view of Mendenhall Glacier. The staff also took on other projects, including renovation of the Taku Glacier, Windfall Lake, Dan Moller, John Muir, and Peterson Lake Cabins in a manner that makes cabins, outhouses, docks, and connecting trails fully accessible.


Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Facilities Retrofit Team
The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Facilities Retrofit Team has worked diligently and successfully to integrate universal access objectives into the planning and implementation of facility maintenance and retrofit efforts on Forest Service lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The group has a proven record of implementing major projects on-time and within budget that meet multiple agency objectives, including providing equal site access for all visitors. The majority of the team’s recent work has focused on recreation facilities including campgrounds, public resorts, and day-use beach swimming sites. The popular Nevada Beach Campground and Day Use site is a good example of the integration and implementation of accessibility objectives along with water quality protection, code-compliance measures, and elimination of deferred maintenance. The campground and day use site was recently renovated and all 54 campsite vehicle parking spaces have been reconfigured to improve resource stewardship, provide circulation efficiency, and comply with Forest Service guidelines. Living area amenities, including picnic tables and fire rings, are being replaced to provide universal accessibility with 100 percent compliance anticipated over the next few years.  Additionally, the majority of campground water hydrant controls have been replaced with accessible controls. Within the beach day-use site, all parking areas were renovated to control storm water flows, improve circulation, and improve visitor experience.  Accessible routes connect the parking lots and accessible restroom buildings and site amenities. A low-tech “boardwalk” network was constructed for each of three parking areas providing universal access to the beach without fundamentally changing the character of the setting.


Big Thompson Canyon Fishing Collaboration
Along the Big Thompson River on the Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest and Pawnee National Grasslands west of Waltonia, Colo., on U.S. 34, a deteriorating 25-year-old fishing pier has been replaced after nearly three years of collaboration, 770 volunteer hours and $20,000 worth of donated labor partnered with the construction materials provide by the forest. The new accessible fishing pier has a positive impact in the local community. This project is an example of Forest Service commitment to accessible facilities, increasing public safety, and to working in collaboration with local communities and other agencies. The project was spearheaded by a local resident, Dallas Maurer, and garnered strong community support as evidenced by the long list of organizations and individuals who became involved in the three-year project.


Northern Region Facilities Group
The Northern Region Facilities Group has become known across the five-state, 25-million-acre region as a “go-to” group that works with units to develop accessibility solutions that are integral to, rather than in addition to, achieving project and program objectives. The group performs a diverse range of work including assessment, planning, design, implementation and construction, inspection, monitoring and training.  The accessibility component is woven into every aspect of their work, which promotes accessibility as an integral part of the program and has fostered understanding and acceptance at all levels of the region. Accomplishments include accessibility-related training that includes participation from other agencies and partners; stabilization of historic structures that integrates universal design solutions; coordination with recreation to ensure both facility and program needs are understood and addressed; and  technical expertise that, perhaps more importantly, is translated in a non-threatening manner and instilling an understanding and buy-in.


Wayne National Forest Leadership and Recreation and Engineering Staff
The Wayne National Forest, within a day’s drive to more than 12 million people, has successfully completed notable recreation projects that demonstrate the forest’s commitment to providing accessible recreation facilities and programs. The projects include the new fully accessible Frontier Boat Launch in Washington County north of Marietta, Ohio, along the Ohio River Scenic Byway. The project is the largest cooperative project of its kind the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has ever undertaken and is one of the few fully accessible boat launch facilities along that section of the Ohio River. The forest also renovated Leith Run and Oak Hill campgrounds.


Cherokee National Forest Technical Services Group/Contracting
On the Cherokee National Forest the members of the Technical Services Group/Contracting have consistently provided advocacy and leadership for the integration of accessibility into the forest’s recreation program and facilities. The team has gone above and beyond to improve and integrate accessibility at day-use and overnight-use developed recreation sites in the Cherokee National Forest. The magnitude of their efforts has resulted in an unbelievable number of improvements and investments in new construction aimed at providing quality recreation and access to all people throughout the Cherokee National Forest. The efficiency, effectiveness, and leadership of this team have been an inspirational model to the entire Southern Region. For example, in 2008, Recreation Site Investment funds were expended to replace several restroom buildings at four popular mountain lake swim beaches. Rather than simply replace the buildings with the “standard” model, which had already been approved and documented, members of this team worked together to modify the original design so that accessible picnic sites could also be provided adjacent to the building. The roof and concrete surfacing were extended on each building to create attractive pavilions offering new opportunities for shade, picnicking, group use and enjoyment of the scenic mountain lake settings. In addition, the new spaces created convenient and attractive accessible picnic sites for all to enjoy. Using the creative design process, this toilet building redesign has now become a standard for the Cherokee National Forest, furthering accessibility efforts beyond buildings to include connected activities, as well. Over the years, more than 55 toilet buildings have been replaced with fully accessible pre-cast toilet buildings.


Methow Valley Ranger District, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest
The Methow Valley Ranger District the Black Pine Lake Campground as a priority project for providing accessible day use, camping, and fishing opportunities. The team took an outdated, inaccessible facility and created accessible recreation opportunities that are unique to the Okanogan-Wenatchee.The team’s creativity resulted in local employment and economic benefits while benefiting fish habitat and creating a truly accessible campground with full amenities including an accessible interpretive trail and accessible fishing dock. Every aspect of the design was guided by providing maximum access to a variety of recreation opportunities: experiencing an interpretive trail, fishing from a safe and comfortable dock, enjoying a picnic at lakeside, camping in the pines, with an accessible toilet close by. In the process the team developed partnerships in and out of the agency to ensure the facilities both improved the location and were cost effect. For example, site preparation required tree removal, so the project leader developed a partnership with the Bureau of Reclamation, which agreed to handle removal of the trees for stream habitat improvement projects.


US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013

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