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Newly Revised Minnesota Accessibility Guidebook

Sep 22, 2003
Newly Revised Minnesota Accessibility Guidebook Offers People with Disabilities More Information About Minnesota Parks

Wilderness Inquiry, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources partner to offer a new and improved guide to accessing the state’s recreation areas

MINNEAPOLIS (Aug. 26, 2003) — Wilderness Inquiry, a non-profit organization that integrates people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities through worldwide wilderness adventures, has partnered with Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCMR) to provide people with disabilities a user-friendly, up-to-date guide to accessing parks and recreation areas in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Accessibility Guidebook, available on the Web at http://www.wildernessinquiry.org/mnparks, provides detailed information about trails, campgrounds,playgrounds, picnic areas, parking areas, restrooms, fishing stations and their associated access routes. Each recreation area receives a rating of “Easy,” “Moderate,” or “Difficult,” which is based on how accessible the area is for a person who uses a wheelchair.

When the guidebook first launched in 1999, it included information about 150 parks. Since then, 109 city, county and state recreation areas across Minnesota have been surveyed by professional Access Outdoors survey crews and added to the guide. As the result of recent changes, park managers can now easily update information about their parks online, eliminating the need for future surveys. This is expected to result in a more comprehensive outdoor recreation accessibility resource for people with disabilities. Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources.

The guidebook is designed to help users make more informed choices about which parks they will visit and increase the likelihood that people with disabilities will utilize Minnesota’s parks.

“The Minnesota Accessibility Guidebook makes it easier for people of all abilities to access and enjoy our incredible Minnesota parks,” said Greg Lais, founder and executive director of Wilderness Inquiry. “Also, by ensuring that people with disabilities have information about accessing the outdoors, there is a stronger likelihood that they will pursue outdoor-related activities and have an opportunity to interact with other park visitors.”

Initial feedback from park users and park managers to the new Web site has been very positive. “The Minnesota Accessibility Guidebook will be invaluable in helping our staff begin working to improve our system,” said Laird Mork of Chisago County Parks in Minnesota.

The guidebook is part of the Access Outdoors Program, a partnership between Wilderness Inquiry, the Minnesota DNR, the Minnesota National River and Recreation Area and the Minnesota State Legislature to create and manage a Web portal to share information about resources, equipment and outdoor recreation with people who have disabilities.
For more information about the Minnesota Accessibility Guidebook, visit http://www.wildernessinquiry.org/mnparks. For more information about Wilderness Inquiry, visit www.wildernessinquiry.org or call 612-676-9400 or 800-728-0719.

About Wilderness Inquiry
Wilderness Inquiry is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year as the oldest and most extensive integrated outdoor education organization in the United States. It is an internationally recognized leader in the design and implementation of wilderness adventure programs for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. Wilderness Inquiry has found that participation in shared wilderness experiences is a “great equalizer,” which breaks down social, racial and economic barriers. Nearly 100 integrated wilderness trips are offered worldwide each year, from kayak tours in British Columbia and Costa Rica to dogsledding in northern Minnesota.

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