Access Guidelines Proposed for Federal Trails, Beaches, Campgrounds

Outdoor developed areas designed, constructed, or altered by the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and some other federal agencies soon may be subject to Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. The Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (known as the Access Board) published a proposed rule June 20 that would cover trails, beach access routes, and picnic and camping facilities on these agencies' properties, although it intends to include exceptions based on feasibility, terrain, and other factors. The board is taking comments until Oct. 18 and said it will hold hearings on July 24 and Sept. 6.

To comment, visit www.regulations.gov or e-mail outdoor@access-board.gov and include Docket No. 2007-02 in the subject line of the message. The board has been working on this issue since 1993 and chose to use negotiated rulemaking to achieve consensus; a committee formed to work on the issues presented its report to the board (available at www.access-board.gov/outdoor/outdoor-rec-rpt.htm) in 1999.

Questions asked in the June 20 proposal suggest how many details remain to be worked out with help from commenters. For example, the committee proposed requiring beach access routes at least 36 inches wide extending to the water's edge where pedestrian routes are provided -- should the access routes also connect elements often located on a beach, such as beach volleyball courts, first aid stations, beach rental equipment facilities, and concession stands, the board asked. Should the 36-inch width be increased? Is a required passing space of 60 inches by 60 inches every 200 feet large enough, and should more passing spaces be required? The minimum and maximum heights of cooking grills and other features also remain to be decided.

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