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Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails

Applying the Forest Service Trails Accessibility Guidelines (Continued)

Overview Chart of the FSTAG Implementation Process

The FSTAG must be applied before initiating new construction or altering any National Forest System trail with a designed use of hiker/pedestrian. Table 4 distills the implementation process into a flow chart that provides easy reference as you work through the process.

Before applying the FSTAG, you'll need to:

Table 4—Overview of the FSTAG Implementation Process
Text version of table
Key Steps and Sequence
Step 1: Determine applicability of the FSTAG. Designed use1 = hiker/pedestrian? NoImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
YesImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. New construction or alteration? NoImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
YesImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Trail connects to a trailhead or accessible trail? NoImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
YesImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 2: Identify presence of limiting factors.
Step 2: Identify Presence of Limiting Factors

General Exception 1 (7.1.2.1)Note: Sequence for identifying limiting
factors may vary and does not need to occur in the order illustrated here.
Trail Grade

Trail grade exceeds 20% for 12 m (40') or more?
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG may still apply. Proceed to limiting factor for surface.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
Document length of trail that exceeds 20% and data source.
Does a condition for departure exist? No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Is limiting factor more than 152 m (500') from a trail terminus? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG applies between terminus and this limiting factor or prominent feature. Proceed to Step 3: Apply Technical Provisions.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Prominent feature present? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
Document applicable condition for departure.
Surface

Surface NOT firm and stable for 14 m (45') or more?
No (The surface IS firm and stable) Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG may still apply.
Proceed to limiting factor for minimum trail width.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
(Surface is NOT firm and stable)
Document surface firmness and data source.
Does a condition for departure exist? No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Is limiting factor more than 152 m (500') from a trail terminus? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG applies between terminus and this limiting factor or prominent feature. Proceed to Step 3: Apply Technical Provisions.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Prominent feature present? YesImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
NoImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
Document applicable condition for departure.
Minimum Trail Width

Minimum trail width less than 457 mm (18") for 6 m (20') or more?
NoImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG may still apply. Proceed to limiting factor for trail obstacle.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
Document minimum trail width and data source.
Does a condition for departure exist? NoImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Is limiting factor more than 152 m (500') from a trail terminus? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG applies between terminus and this limiting factor or prominent feature. Proceed to Step 3: Apply Technical Provisions.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Prominent feature present? YesImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
NoImage of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
Document applicable condition for departure.
Trail Obstacle

Trail obstacle 762 mm (30") or higher across width of trail?
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG may still apply. Proceed to Step 3: Apply Technical Provisions.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
Document obstacle type, dimensions, and data source.
Does a condition for departure exist? No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Is limiting factor more than 152 m (500') from a trail terminus? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG applies between terminus and this limiting factor or prominent feature. Proceed to Step 3: Apply Technical Provisions.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Prominent feature present? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
Document applicable condition for departure.
Step 3: Apply Technical Provisions

Technical Provisions (7.3.1 to 7.3.8)
Trail Grade

Trail grade complies with 7.3.1.1?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with trail grade technical provision 7.3.1.1.  
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with trail grade technical provision 7.3.1.1.
Trail Cross Slope

Trail cross slope complies with 7.3.1.2?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with trail cross slope technical provision 7.3.1.2.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with trail cross slope technical provision 7.3.1.2.
Resting Interval

Resting intervals comply with 7.3.2?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with resting interval technical provision 7.3.2.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with resting interval technical provision 7.3.2.
Surface

Surface complies with 7.3.3?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with surface technical provision 7.3.3.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with surface technical provision 7.3.3.
Clear Tread Width

Clear tread width complies with 7.3.4?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with clear tread width technical provision 7.3.4.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with clear tread width technical provision 7.3.4.
Passing Space

Passing spaces comply with 7.3.5?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with passing space technical provision 7.3.5.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with passing space technical provision 7.3.5.
Tread Obstacles

Tread obstacles comply with 7.3.6?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with tread obstacle technical provision 7.3.6.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with tread obstacle technical provision 7.3.6.
Protruding Objects

Protruding objects comply with 7.3.7?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with protruding objects technical provision 7.3.7.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with protruding objects technical provision 7.3.7.
Openings

Openings comply with 7.3.8?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with trail grade technical provision 7.3.8.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Does condition for departure exist? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation permitted.2
Measure and record length of deviation.
Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Proceed to Step 4: Calculate cumulative deviation percentage.
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Deviation not permitted. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Comply with trail grade technical provision 7.3.8.
Step 4: Calculate Cumulative Deviation Percentage

General Exception 2 (7.1.2.2)
Cumulative Deviation Percentage

Do permitted deviations occur on less than 15% of total trail length?
Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Apply FSTAG technical provisions to entire trail.3
No, deviations occur on more than 15%. Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Is first deviation more than 152 m (500') from a trail terminus? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Apply FSTAG technical provisions to the segment of trail between a terminus and the first point of deviation.3
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Prominent feature present? Yes Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. Apply FSTAG technical provisions to the segment of trail between a terminus and the prominent feature.3
No Image of an arrow pointing the next cell in the decision matrix. FSTAG does not apply.
Document cumulative deviation percentage.


1Excerpt from Forest Service Trail Fundamentals (http://www.fs.fed.us/r3/measures/Inventory/Trails.htm)
Definition of Designed Use: "The intended use that controls the desired geometric design of the trail, and determines the subsequent maintenance parameters for the trail…. Of the actively Managed Uses that the trail is developed and managed for, the Designed Use is the single design driver that determines the technical specifications for the trail."

Excerpt from Access Board Recommendations for Accessibility Guidelines: Outdoor Developed Areas, Final Report (page 11):
" The accessibility guidelines for trails apply to those which are designed and constructed for pedestrian use. These guidelines are not applicable to trails primarily designed and constructed for recreational use by equestrians, mountain bicyclists, snowmobile users, or off-highway vehicle users, even if pedestrians may occasionally use the same trails. People use these categories of trails by means of transportation other than foot travel or personal mobility device. Design and constructed requirements for equestrians, mountain bikes, OHVs, and snowmobiles are based on the specific requirements for the intended mode of transportation. For the safety of trail users, pedestrian use may not always be permitted on these trails in order to minimize conflicts between motorized and non-motorized recreation. These trails do not preclude use by a person with a disability since it is planned that all trail users would be using the one or more alternative means of transportation for which the trail is designed and constructed. The design and construction of pedestrian trails without consideration of these proposed guidelines, by contrast, could present barriers to some trail users because the intended use is by foot or personal mobility device. For these reasons, the committee intentionally limited the application of the proposed guidelines to pedestrian use trails."

2If at any point during Step 3 the occurrence of one or more conditions of departure result in permitted deviations from technical provisions on more than 15% of the trail length, proceed to Step 4.

3Refer to the FSTAG for detailed instructions, definitions, and technical provisions 7.0 through 7.3.


It should be noted that the definition used in these proposed guidelines is not the only definition used by trail designers and manager. Rather, it was developed to specifically define the scope of these guidelines.

If you have questions about applying any of the above information, please contact your region's recreation accessibility coordinator. Current contact information is available on the Forest Service's internal computer network at http://fsweb.mtdc.wo.fs.fed.us/toolbox/acc/documents/coord.htm.

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