Inclusive interpretive measures

At the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy in Michigan, we believe that access to nature isn't a luxury; it belongs to all people. Our supporters feel that way as well. When GTRLC made universal access a pillar of our recent capital campaign, people stepped up with tremendous gifts, telling us, "We're so proud of you for thinking this way."

By Jennifer Jay June 29, 2020

We just cut the ribbon on our fourth universally accessible trail this spring, providing meaningful opportunities for people of different mobilities to engage with nature. We have worked closely with the Disability Network on each trail. One, the Overlook Trail at Arcadia Dunes, was designed specifically to allow people with visual impairment to touch and feel different trees along the trail.

The Arcadia Marsh Boardwalk features a variety of interpretive materials — placed so that people in wheelchairs can view them — about the birds specific to the trail. It's been named one of the birding hotspots in the Midwest.

When the world returns to normal, we will get training from the Disability Network on leading hikes for people with hearing impairment and we'll offer interpreters at most of our hikes, as well as leading a few specifically for people with hearing impairment in our community. 

We have also begun working with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians to identify preserves with cultural history to include on kiosks as well, scheduled to be in place by 2021.

You can read more about our work in this area and similar work from other land trusts in "Interpreting the Land: Helping More People Benefit from Conservation."