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Access Nature in the Public Eye

Advancing Inclusion and Accessibility in Outdoor Recreation

January 12, 2024


Hello Access Nature community,

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are now gearing up for another year of outdoor adventures!

I want to share some motivating attention that our initiative received. In October 2023, the NJ Department of Human Services (DHS), the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance held a press conference at Atsion Recreation Area in Wharton State Forest to highlight the collaborative work that has been done to make nature accessible for all through the Inclusive Healthy Communities (IHC) grant funding, which PPA was a grantee for.

Watch the event video created by the NJ Department of Human Services:

The attention the October press event received prompted David Matthau, a reporter with WHYY, to contact us in December. David was ecstatic about the initiative and was eager to learn more to promote our work. David and I toured the Atsion Recreation Area, where PPA has helped enhance accessibility features. We discussed ways to improve inclusion and accessibility at this state site, as well as others managed by the DEP. 

The WHYY article and radio broadcast that covered the initiative in December can be found below!

During this interview, we highlighted the key goals of this initiative which are:

  • Create forums for people with disabilities, caregivers, and land managers to be heard. We are listening and learning about the challenges people face and how we can work together to overcome those challenges.
  • Make a public mobile-friendly website, AccessNatureNJ.org, to provide detailed information on trails and scenic locations that are accessible to at least some degree. You can share feedback on accessible sites here.
  • Help state, local, and nonprofit land managers create more accessible trails and improve facilities for people with disabilities in mind. Upgrade existing sand trails to make them more firm, flat, and stable, and make other improvements. We are eager to partner with land managers – please reach out to me if you are interested in accessible trail work.
  • Help people become comfortable exploring natural areas by offering guided nature trips that are designed for everyone, including people with disabilities, through our outdoor recreation initiative, Pinelands Adventures.
  • Show the world that everyone can enjoy the wonders of nature in the Pinelands.  Using images, videos, and testimonials to show all people that everyone can explore the Pinelands if appropriate trails, facilities, and programs are made available. If you have pictures and experiences that you are willing to share with others, please let us use them to spread the word.

Any questions, or comments regarding this initiative please contact Sean Kane-Holland at sean@pinelandsalliance.org

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