Colorado Parks and Wildlife Introduces New Program to Increase Accessibility for Park Visitors
RIDGEWAY, Colo. (KRDO) – On Monday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) introduced the Track-Chair program and beach wheelchairs at Ridgway State Park. This is a program to increase outdoor accessibility for park visitors.
” That has no price. To be able to provide this opportunity not only to our local communities, but also to park visitors from around the world, is simply invaluable,” said park superintendent Johnathon Freeborn. “When you see the face of a child playing on the beach or along our trails, that’s why we do the work we do in our state parks.”
The Track-Chair program has already been introduced at Staunton State Park in Jefferson County. To kick off the program at Ridgway State Park, Staunton State Park donated one of its Action Trackchairs. CPW said its hunting and angling outreach programs donated funds to the program to help secure a second chair. A trailer was even given for safe storage.
CPW said visitors with reduced mobility will be allowed to explore designated trails in the park using the trail chairs.
“It’s a unique opportunity for us here on the West Rim where there just aren’t as many opportunities for this type of access as there are on the Front Range,” Freeborn said. “Ridgway is now able to provide that, it’s quite special.”
CPW said Park Ranger Erin Vogel implemented the Track-Chair program at Ridway State Park.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer this type of access on a few of our trails and look forward to partnering with various organizations,” Vogel said.
CPW said a new trail master plan will add 14 miles to the park’s existing trails. Visitors can reserve a place to use the track chairs. It is free to use, but visitors will have to pay entry to the park.
“As part of our master plan, we want to increase areas for trail chairs and widen some existing trails to make them more accessible,” Freeborn said. “Not all miles of the park will be wheelchair accessible, but we want to make it for all trails that make sense.”
A 300-foot beach mat and two floating beach wheelchairs were also purchased with a $19,000 grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The grant was obtained by the Friends of Ridgway State Park, a nonprofit organization founded in 1996.
All wheelchair users will be able to paddle the sands of the Dutch Charlie Designated Swim Beach area of the park. The mat will allow visitors to travel along and through the water.
“We hope this program will remove some of the barriers preventing individuals and families from enjoying the swimming beach,” Vogel said.
Visitors can check out beach wheelchairs at the Charlie Designated Dutch Swimming Beach for free.
“This is a huge step forward in improving accessibility for visitors to our state parks in the Southwest region,” said CPW Deputy Regional Manager Heath Kehm. “Ridgway State Park is our most visited park in the region and offers a wide range of recreational opportunities. Being able to extend these offerings to members of the disability community is a priority for CPW, and we look forward to building on these programs in the future.”
You can find out more about the program here.