Michigan -(Ammoland.com)- On July 26, the nation will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush.
In recognition of this anniversary, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is highlighting an updated listing of accessible DNR recreation opportunities offered throughout the state.
The DNR’s commitment to providing accessible recreation has created opportunities for users of all abilities to feel the rush of a waterfall, hunt Michigan game and enjoy camping in a variety of lodging sites and settings.
“Accessible recreation is a priority for both new and existing facilities,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Division Chief Ron Olson. “We are continuously making strides to bridge those gaps that still exist and to provide recreational access for people of all abilities.”
One such example is the 2011 renovation of Ocqueoc Falls (Presque Isle County), the only public waterfall in the Lower Peninsula and the first accessible waterfall in the nation. This unique site allows visitors to getright into the cool water using either tiered rocks or a decked ramp with a transfer station. Thanks in part to grant funding from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Recreation Improvement Fund and the Recreational Trails Program, the site also features a wide paved trail, picnic areas with crushed limestone surfaces, accessible picnic tables, and benches with cement pads to allow for side-by-side seating (Ocqueoc Falls video).
The Ocqueoc Falls Bicentennial Pathway was recognized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in 2013 and received the da Vinci Award, under the “environmental adaption for working and daily living” category, by providing assistive and adaptive technologies.
The DNR, with guidance from the Accessibility Advisory Council, incorporates barrier-free accommodations into various recreation offerings. Lodging structures like cabins, yurts and modern lodges are built or renovated to include entrance ramps rather than stairs. Some state parks host free adaptive recreation programs to provide equipment rental, hands-on experience and instruction with special equipment. DNR staff also adds accessibility improvements like ramps and boardwalks into renovation plans for existing state parks, boat launches and other recreation amenities.
The Michigan Historical Center administers 12 museums and historic sites around the state; many are accessible in whole or in part to visitors with mobility concerns. Complete accessibility information can be found on each site’s visitor information page. Visitwww.michigan.gov/museumsystem for links to each museum/historic site.
“We are proud to offer these accessible recreation facilities, but we know that there’s plenty more to do,” said DNR Director Keith Creagh. “We want to ensure we’re meeting the needs of all residents and visitors so that everyone can enjoy Michigan’s outstanding natural resources.”
The DNR also has partnered with organizations likeMichigan Operation Freedom Outdoors to provide outdoor recreation opportunities to wounded veterans and others with health challenges. Tracked wheelchairs, accessible hunting blinds and assistive hunting guides are available (through reservations) at the Sharonville State Game Area in Jackson County.
In addition to the DNR’s accessible recreation facilities, many municipal accessibility improvements and new recreation projects are funded by grants from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, which is administered by the DNR. When evaluating grant applications, the Trust Fund board awards additional points to projects that include barrier-free accessibility. Aside from Ocqueoc Falls, recent accessibility projects funded by the Trust Fund include:
- $300,000 for an accessible fishing pier at Oden State Fish Hatchery (Emmet County)
- $300,000 for accessibility improvements and modernization of two lodges at Ralph A. MacMullan Center (Crawford County)
- $295,000 for universal redevelopment of Lakeside Park
- $182,500 for a beach park and restrooms at Lakeview Park (Roscommon County)
- $50,000 for accessibility enhancements at Grace Macdonald Park (Grand Traverse County)
- $36,300 for an accessible fishing pier at Groveland Oaks Park (Oakland County).
Grants also are scored for accessibility and awarded under the Land Exchange Facilitation Fund and the Recreation Passport program. Learn more about DNR-administered grant programs atwww.michigan.gov/dnr-grants.
For more information about accessible recreation opportunities in Michigan, visitwww.michigan.gov/dnraccessibilty. Contact information and the ability to search by accessible recreation offerings are available at www.michigan.gov/recreationsearch.
The DNR strives to offer accurate information, but due to ongoing site improvements at locations statewide, the website may not always reflect the most up-to-date information. The department recommends contacting a site directly to learn more about accessible recreation offered there.
The Americans with Disabilities Act provides civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age and religion. The ADA and ADAAA also assure equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities for access to businesses, employment, transportation, state and local government programs and services, and telecommunications.
The ADA 25th anniversary also will be celebrated Sept. 17 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Michigan Capitol lawn in downtown Lansing. Learn more at www.dnmichigan.org/ada-25.