On September 6, the Board held a public hearing on guidelines it has proposed for Federal parks and recreation areas. These guidelines, which cover trails, beach access routes, and picnic and camping areas, are intended to clarify how, and to what extent, access can be achieved in developing or altering Federal outdoor sites. The event provided an opportunity for the public to provide feedback on the guidelines directly to the Board.
|Board members hear testimony from Janet Zeller of the U.S. Forest Service.|
Representatives from Federal land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Interior, participated in the hearing and provided testimony. Other speakers included representatives from various industry and consumer organizations, among them the National Recreation and Park Association, the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the American Council of the Blind, and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Trail designers, park operators, product manufacturers, a state ADA coordinator, and others also provided input on the guidelines.
Many speakers generally endorsed the guidelines, including their overall approach, and urged the Board to complete action promptly and to follow-up with guidelines for non-Federal sites due to the long standing confusion that exists on providing access to outdoor environments. The U.S. Forest Service highlighted considerations and provided recommendations based on its experience applying similar accessibility criteria to sites and trails under its jurisdiction.
Most comments addressed trails and outdoor access routes. Trail operators and designers provided information on the results of their efforts to improve access and flagged topics of inquiry, such as alternative methods for measuring surface firmness and stability. Recommendations were received on trail signage and map systems and other subjects in response to questions posed by the Board in its published proposal.
Participants also addressed beach access, including proposed criteria for access routes, compliance and maintenance concerns, boardwalks, and available mat systems for routes. In addition, comments were received that highlighted subjects that should be further clarified or explored, including the guidelines' scope of coverage and applicability to certain types of sites and documentation of compliance. Speakers also stressed the need for supplementary guidance materials and training once the guidelines are completed.
Hearing testimony is posted on the Board's website along with other comments received to date. This hearing follows one held in Denver in July. A third and final hearing will take place September 26 in Indianapolis in conjunction with National Recreation and Park Association's annual congress. The guidelines are available for comment until October 18, 2007.
For further information on the guidelines or the hearings, contact Bill Botten at email@example.com, (202) 272-0014 (v), or (202) 272-0082 (TTY). Additional information is posted on the outdoor developed areas homepage.