The state of the State Trail System
In Massachusetts State Parks there are thousands of miles of unpaved recreation trails, but only apprixomately 7.5 miles are categorized as universally accessible. Of that 7.5 miles, some trails have been allowed to deteriorate so much, they really can't be considered accessible any longer. The limited amount of accessible trails in our parks doesn't begin to meet the needs of the population.
This data comes from The Census, CDC, and The Massachusetts Commission On The Status of People With Disabilities
Universally accessible recreation trails provide safer, easier access to nature for seniors, people with various disabling and mobility limiting conditions, as well as small children who may need strollers or are just learning to walk.
The figures above don't include people who are recovering from injury or illness, or that have chronic pain or joint problems that limit their mobility but aren't considered disabling. All together, that's a lot of people.
Where accessible trails do exist, most of them are short, close to park entrances, and sometimes don't allow adequate access to the features most people visit the park for. People with mobility concerns are seeking the same type of meaningful nature experiences that are available to those without mobility limitations. Marginalization, inequity, underrepresentation, and ableism have stood in the way for far to long. As a state, we can and should do better. Our parks are beautiful natural resources that everyone in Massachusetts should be able to enjoy.
Here are 5 Ways You Can Help Advocate For Change In Massachusetts:
2. Get Emails To Stay Informed About Progress. Sign up for email updates here.
3. Contact The DCR and tell them you support adding more universally accessible unpaved trails -
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (617) 626-1250
4. Contact Your State Rep and Senator and tell them you want more universally accessible, all persons trails in Massachusetts. If you don't know who you elected officials are you can find out here- Find My Legislator
5. Sign The Petition- Sign the petition urging the DCR and our legislators to increase access to nature for everyone!