A landmark settlement has been reached between the National Park Service and Disability Rights Advocates that will significantly improve wheelchair access at the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, which is the country’s largest urban national park.
“People with disabilities for too long have been excluded from many of the experiences offered by national parks,” Larry Paradis, DRA executive director said in a statement. “These range from watching a sunset from an oceanside beach, to visiting the redwoods, to walking a trail through wilderness to visiting historic structures.”
The Golden Gate National Recreational Area is set upon 75,000 picturesque acres and encompasses sites including Alcatraz, the Presidio, the Marin Headlands, Muir Woods, Crissy Field and Forts Point and Mason. More than 13 million people visit the recreation area annually.
Under terms of the settlement, wheelchair access to major trails must be provided as well as seasonal access to beach wheelchairs and wheelchair accessible beach mats. The National Park Service has also pledged to spend $3 million on projects including the construction of accessible beach boardwalks, accessible picnic areas and restrooms.
After the court approves the settlement, the National Park Service has until 2019 to make the needed changes.