The Access Nature Forum was created to bring together a diverse selection of like-minded individuals to have conversations about improving access to natural places. We aim to engage those with disabilities, their families, caregivers, veterans’ groups, assisted living organizations, advocacy groups, nonprofit organizations, state, and local officials, and agencies in a public discourse that identifies public interest, concerns, and ideas, and join their voices for improving access to natural places.
Our goal is to bring about change for the betterment of our collective community. This is an opportunity for a section of our community to express what they need, want, and hope for, to make their lives and outdoor recreation more enjoyable through accessibility to the outdoors and the ability to gain a positive mental and physical health experience.
We will hold quarterly conversations via Zoom with the potential to add more meeting dates as our plan develops. If you are interested in participating in any forum discussion, please fill out the sign-up form below.
This is a work in progress, and we value your input on how we are developing, whether you would change or add to the information we provide, and how you think we can make this forum and website more useful. You can email Sean Kane Holland at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our survey form.
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Access Nature Forum Schedule for 2024
March 12, 2024 at 7 PM via Zoom
Join us for an insightful discussion by Tom Hennigan from the JORBA Trail Association. He will discuss how to provide access to native surface trails in the backcountry and adapt universal trail design principles to include a broad spectrum of trail users. He will also provide an introduction to adaptive mountain biking and discuss guidelines for building inclusive sustainable and accessible trails. His presentation includes recommendations for trail width, camber, turn radius, and grade to accommodate adaptive mountain bikes as well as considerations to balance accessibility, sustainability, and environmental impact when developing inclusive trails.
April 24, 2024 at 7 PM via Zoom
Meet Maayan Ziv, an activist, photographer, and entrepreneur who has created a powerful shift in thinking about the importance of accessibility in our world. Maayan is the founder and CEO of AccessNow, a mobile app and website that collects and shares information about the accessibility status of places worldwide. In this forum, learn how to leverage AccessNow’s innovative approach to assess spaces, empower individuals with disabilities to contribute, and effectively market the results through the AccessOutdoors Program. Learn how you can play a role in creating a more inclusive and accessible outdoor experience for all!
Missed the meeting? Watch the replay.
February 12th, 2024 Access Nature Forum Stafford Township in Ocean County
Join us on February 12th for our next Access Nature Forum. In this forum, we will hear from Matthew R. von der Hayden, Township Administrator / Director of Water & Sewer Utility with Stafford Township in Ocean County. Matthew will discuss the creation of an all-inclusive passive park at Forecastle Basin that will incorporate ADA accessibility, reforest the area, and create an environment for all to enjoy. He will delve into the project details that he and the Township Engineer, Frank Little, are working on to accomplish the 13-step process laid out by the Pinelands Commission. Stafford Township is nearing the end of the process and is looking for the final MOA to build this passive park and pathway for the community. Please join us to learn more about this project and throw in your support for its completion!
REPLAY COMING SOON!
January 10th, 2024 Access Nature Forum New York-New Jersey Trail Conference
A conversation with Peter Dolan, Trail Program Manager for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. Peter discussed how the sustainable design elements that are incorporated into modern trail building often align with accessible best practices, making it easier than ever to create natural surface opportunities for trail users with disabilities.
October 11th, 2023 Access Nature Forum Burlington County Parks Accessibility Features:
A conversation with Matthew Johnson who is the Coordinator for Open Space Acquisition & Park Development with Burlington County Parks. He discusses his role, current projects and initiatives, and ADA-accessible trails and amenities within the county park system. He covers opportunities for networking, information on funding opportunities and resources, and how to get involved as well as how the public can support ongoing projects. We discussed our goals to make the outdoors more inclusive and accessible for individuals with special needs.
September 13th, 2023 Access Nature Forum Disability Rights NJ Meeting:
A conversation with Craig Ismaili, a staff attorney with Disability Rights NJ, and his colleague Regina Smith. The presentation summarized the relevant regulations regarding inclusion and accessibility for vision impairments, deaf or hard of hearing, sensory processing disorders, and anxiety. They highlighted examples from across the country and brainstormed best practices for increasing accessibility and enjoyment of outdoor spaces in NJ in relation to these disability concerns. Finally, attendees reviewed considerations and tips to begin the conversation about accessibility in their own space.
April 12th, 2023 Access Nature Forum Get To Know Your Parks Meeting:
A conversation with Jeremy Buzzell, Branch Chief for the National Parks Accessibility Program. He discussed his role, current projects and initiatives, opportunities for networking, information on funding opportunities and resources, and items to focus on for our goals. National Parks in New Jersey include Sandy Hook’s Gateway National Recreation Area and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
January 11, 2023, Access Nature Forum Kick Off Meeting
This inaugural Zoom meeting provided a tutorial for our AccessNatureNJ.org website. It was a great and productive discussion!
This Forum is a part of The Pinelands Is for Everyone project of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance (PPA). We aim to work with people with disabilities and their allies to make nature more accessible, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of being in our region’s magnificent nature spaces. For more information, go to our web site here.
Pinelands Preservation Alliance is the leading environmental constituency-building and advocacy organization for the protection and enjoyment of the New Jersey Pinelands, an ecologically unique region of 1.1 million acres in Southern New Jersey.
Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ) protects, advocates for, and advances the rights of persons with disabilities in pursuit of a society in which persons with disabilities exercise self-determination and choice and are treated with dignity and respect.
Hopeworks is a social enterprise that uses technology, healing, and entrepreneurship to transform lives. Its unique trauma-informed approach, combined with high-demand, high-wage technical training and paid work experience helps build young people who can not only get jobs but keep them.
This initiative was funded by an Inclusive Healthy Communities Grant from the Division of Disability Services, New Jersey Department of Human Services.