‘Birding for Everyone’ trail officially opens
By Kathleen Goddeyne -
On Sat. Sept. 22, the Grand Valley Audubon Society (GVAS) opened its newest trail at the “Birding for Everyone” trail event.
Carol Hunter, author of Accessible Outdoor Facilities and Programs Using Universal Design2002, spoke at a Grand Valley Audubon Society monthly program about handicap accessibility. After surveying the Audubon’s owned properties, Nature Center and Ela Sanctuary recommended the GVAS start by making the Nature Center bird blind wheelchair accessible.
The bird blind is the classroom for bird banding and outdoor education programs for local school district fifth graders. Nearly 1,000 students make the field trip each year.
Hunter also suggested that GVAS make a handicap accessible trail from the information kiosk at the entrance to the Ela Sanctuary from Dike Road to the Colorado River.
The 5.5 foot wide trail, meeting American Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, has several different designs to help those with vision problems navigate. The trail itself is made of three inches of compacted, decomposed granite for a smoother step or ride. Black polypropylene edging is raised two inches above the trail to serve as a kick rail for the blind.
People with or without disabilities can now enjoy the 700 feet long trail that ends at the Colorado River with a large gathering area and a bench.
Signs on the trail also include a little something extra. Motion sensor digital players are placed at each of the informational signs. When someone walks up, the motion sensor sets off an audio recording about various trail facts. The units are weatherproof, battery operated, and vandal proof.
“Less than 5 percent of people use brail anymore,” Bob Wilson, Trail Manager, commented about the benefit of using the motion sensors over brail.
Brail also poses a problem of being rubbed away by people and weather.
One portion of the trail is raised above the rest. Due to the fact that that area is known for occasional flooding, a small bridge was constructed.
Before anyone walks onto the bridge, which connects, to the raised portion of the trail, they will step on a brick area of the trail. These bricks signify the beginning of the raised portion of trail.
Although the raised area is only several feet higher than the ground below, it is important to take safety precautions. A wire lines either side of the trail to ensure no one falls from the trail. The end of the raised portion is also marked with bricks so that the vision-impaired know the elevation of the trail has returned to normal.
This new trail is enjoyable and safe for all types of people regardless of disability.
The trail is located at the entrance to the Ela Sanctuary from Dike Road to the Colorado River.