Massachusetts Needs More Accessible Unpaved Recreation Trails (All Persons Trails)

Massachusetts Needs More Accessible Unpaved Recreation Trails (All Persons Trails)

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Meg B started this petition to Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation Stephanie Cooper, Acting Commissioner

In Massachusetts 33-47% of the population could benefit from having more unpaved accessible recreation trails (17% of our population is over age 65, 11-25% is under age 65 and living with a disabling condition, and 5% are children under age five).

Unfortunately, Massachusetts has a severe lack of unpaved accessible recreation trails (also known as All Person's Trails) in both our State Parks and on a municipal level, and the current trail infrastructure doesn't even come close to meeting the needs of the population. In our State Parks there are thousands of miles of recreation trails, but only 7.5 miles appear to be accessible.

  • Funding for trails has historically and disproportionately gone towards creating able-bodied spaces in both our State Parks and on conservation lands in our cities and towns.

 

  • Inadequate funding,  as well as a lack of support and education about creating inclusive spaces, perpetuates the creation and existence of able-bodied only spaces.

 

  • Information about accessible trails on DCR properties is hard to find (another problem) but it appears that some of the 7.5 miles of unpaved  accessible trails has been allowed to deteriorate to the point where they should no longer be labeled accessible. 

All Persons Trails are accessible walking/hiking spaces that allow anyone and everyone to access nature.

Some examples of trail users are: Mobility device users, people whose mobility is limited due to age, a medical condition or illness, and families or caregivers with a young child, that need a stroller or are still learning to walk.

If you don't have a mobility consideration, these trails are enjoyable, well-designed spaces, that allow easy access to nature.

This is an issue of environmental justice, equity, and public health:

We know that spending time in nature has health benefits and promotes physical and mental well-being. The lack of unpaved accessible trails puts an already vulnerable population that suffers from disproportionately higher levels of stress-related illnesses at further risk. Marginalization creates isolation and further harms health and mental well-being.

Getting young children outside into nature early, can promote a life-long love and stewardship for the natural world. It also promotes health and well-being early in life.

Making greater portions of public land accessible to all ensures that everyone, regardless of their economic status, can have access to nature.

Sign this petition to tell the DCR and our State Government that you support creating more All Person's Trails in Massachusetts and want to improve our existing trail infrastructure to make it more inclusive!

To learn more about All Persons Trails and find out how you can help advocate for more trails visit UnpavedTrailsForAll.org

We'd like to see conditions improved in the following ways:

  • More of the available trail funding going toward projects that are creating inclusive spaces. 

 

  • Increased funding to help to address the historical inequities and marginalization.

 

  • Add members to the Massachusetts Recreation Trail Advisory Board who specifically represent trail users with disabling conditions. This board helps the DCR to decide how federal money for trail development should be allocated. They also advise the DCR on projects and subjects that are important to the trail user community. The board is supposed to represent all types of trail users.

 

  • Adopting a requirement to use the U.S. Forest Service Accessible Trail Guidelines (or creating State accessibility guidelines) for all new trails. 

 

  • Help land managers and planners throughout the state create more accessible nature spaces by increasing education and support.

 

  • Conduct a comprehensive survey of our existing trails to identify access barriers. In some cases, small improvements or changes can be made that would result in the space becoming accessible to more people.

 

  • Providing information about trails and potential barriers to the public. This information will open up more trails to more people. 
0 have signed. Let’s get to 100!
At 100 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!