NFCT, RTCA seek input on waterway accessibility

WAITSFIELD, Vt. — The Northern Forest Canoe Trail and the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program of the National Parks Service are partnering on a survey to better understand accessibility along the waterways of the Northern Forest region.

The goal of the partnership between the NFCT and RTCA is to improve access for adaptive paddlers and anyone with a disability or mobility challenge interested in paddlesports. The Northern Forest Canoe Trail Accessibility Survey represents the first step in the planning process for this project.

“We want to create waterway access that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone, regardless of ability,” said Alex Delhagen, the NFCT’s assistant trail director. “Over the years, our stewardship program has rehabilitated campsites, installed modern and user-friendly access points and implemented new technology along portage routes that protects against erosion and enhances safety. These projects represent progress, but we also understand we can do more to encourage all users to enjoy the water, whether they’re looking to spend multiple days paddling in the wilderness or a single afternoon fishing.”

“The word accessible can mean different things to different people,” Delhagen added. “We want to know where folks like to paddle and what kinds of improvements would make certain paddling opportunities safer and more enjoyable for a range of bodies, from those with creaky knees and stiff hips to people in wheelchairs and everyone in between.”

The results of the survey will help the NFCT identify specific needs, opportunities for improvement and target future infrastructure projects more effectively. The survey takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete and can be found at bit.ly/nfctaccessibilitysurvey. To learn more about the survey, contact Alex Delhagen at alex@northernforestcanoetrail.org.

For more information about the NFCT, visit northernforestcanoetrail.org.


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