Flathead Rivers Alliance receives grant to increase ADA accessibility on Flathead River
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: November 28, 2023

West Glacier, MT – November 20, 2023 – Flathead Rivers Alliance (FRA) and partners have begun Phase II of improving American Disability Act (ADA) accessibility on the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River thanks to a $30,411 grant through the Flathead National Forest and the Flathead Resource Advisory Committee (RAC). The goal of this project is to provide those living with a disability more direct access to, and benefits stemming from, our natural resources.

FRA is working collaboratively with DREAM Adaptive Recreation, Flathead National Forest, Glacier National Park, Jackola Engineering and Architecture, Summit Independent Living, HydroLogistics, Montana FWP, Underwater Soldiers, Glacier Raft Co, Wild River Adventures, Glacier Guide & Montana Raft Co, and other stakeholders.The intent of this multi-year project is to assess barriers and prioritize opportunities to improve accessibility of 12 vehicle-access river access sites for individuals with disabilities on the Middle and North Forks of the Flathead River. Access sites currently meet limited accessibility standards.

In 2022, partners tackled Phase I of the project by assessing baseline conditions of select river access sites through on-location visits and a stakeholder workshop. This produced conceptual designs and recommendations for two top priority access sites for Flathead National Forest’s consideration.

Phase II will (1) produce conceptual designs for the remaining 10 access sites; (2) finalize and prioritize recommendations for each of the sites and; (3) produce an ADA/Universal Design River User Guide for existing conditions for visitor use. A series of stakeholder workshops will be held to assist with these efforts.“The Forest Service is committed to integrating accessibility into the full range of recreation opportunities while protecting natural resources and settings so that people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors together.” says Deputy Forest Supervisor Tami MacKenzie. “The Flathead Rivers Alliance has been an instrumental part of this opportunity and the Flathead National Forest is excited to be partnering with FRA.”

“We are thrilled to be teaming up on this project!  One in four adults (61 million people) in the United States have a disability. It is critical that this historically marginalized group is better included in our communities, including in the outdoor recreation space, and that they have access to all the benefits that stem from it,” exclaims Executive Director DREAM Adaptive Recreation Julie Tickle.”

Flathead Rivers Alliance (FRA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to preservation and accessibility of the Three Forks of the Flathead Wild and Scenic River. Through education, stewardship and outreach they work alongside partners to maintain the health of the Flathead River, as well as ensure access and enjoyment for all users. FRA serves as a friends group boosting the capacity of cooperative managing agencies to work more closely with local advocates for the river system and existing and future river users.

Flathead Rivers Alliance is seeking funding for the remaining $13,000 to complete Phase II of Removing Barriers for ADA Accessibility project. Contact Sheena Pate, Executive Director at info@flatheadrivers.org for donations specific to this project. Stakeholder workshops will be held in spring 2024.

For more information on this project, upcoming events and resources visit www.flatheadrivers.org.

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