Providing access to land for all

Designing access with and for the community

When the accredited Solano Land Trust began work to increase accessibility on its properties, it knew the only way to successfully achieve this goal was to invite community members living with disability to join its “design table.”

By Chris Soto Mar 28, 2022

When the accredited Solano Land Trust began work to increase accessibility on its properties, it knew the only way to successfully achieve this goal was to invite community members living with disability to join its “design table.”

With the help of Mike Muir, caretaker for the land trust’s Rush Ranch property and founder of Access Adventure, and a wheelchair user himself, the organization created an accessibility advisory team of community members with multiple ability levels, a variety of disabilities and differing experiences in nature to advise the land trust on improving recreation facilities with the goal of making everyone feel comfortable accessing all that the land trust properties had to offer.

The advisory team looked at upcoming projects and visited sites to point out features where accessibility could mean independence. At Rush Ranch, the land trust incorporated the advisory team’s suggestions to bring an accessible trail through the picnic area and create an accessible picnic site that doubles as a campsite. It also planned improvements that included a water fountain with foot pedals, picnic tables with the wheelchair cutout in the middle instead of on the end, rope-guided trails for visitors who are blind and a shaded amphitheater. The team members also helped test new surface materials to make trails easier to use with a wheelchair. The land trust worked to create various levels of nature immersion with the goal that all people feel safe, comfortable and independent at the nature preserves.

Today on a visit to Rush Ranch you might revel in a horse-drawn wagon ride using the solar-powered wheelchair lift. Whether you want to fly a kite, learn how to drive horses, get out on a trail or just enjoy the view, Solano Land Trust believes its lands are there for all people.

This story was originally posted in Open to All: A disability inclusion guide for land trusts in 2021.