Increased Access to Public Lands

July 26, 2005 marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provided broad, non-discrimination […]

July 26, 2005 marked the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which provided broad, non-discrimination protection in employment, public services, transportation, telecommunications, and other services. On that day, Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04) joined the Minnesota-based Wilderness Inquiry along with federal land management agencies in the signing of an agreement to help increase access for people with disabilities to public lands. Congressman Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN) was also on hand to witness the signing of the agreement.

A “Memorandum of Understanding” was signed by multiple federal agencies including the National Park Service, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Wilderness Inquiry, an organization dedicated to increasing disability access to public lands. The Memorandum commits each agency to increase opportunities for people of all abilities to use the programs, facilities and activities of public lands and waterways. The original understanding was signed in 1997.

“This important agreement has benefited thousands of people,” Congressman Sabo said. “I am pleased that these federal agencies have committed to working with the Wilderness Inquiry to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.”

McCollum shared these thoughts: “Since 1978, Wilderness Inquiry has made America’s natural places and public lands a tangible experience for more than 200,000 people of diverse backgrounds, ages, and abilities.

Wilderness Inquiry has been a pioneer in creating access to the outdoors not only in technical ways—by expanding their programs and by adapting conventional outdoor equipment—but just as importantly by opening minds. They have challenged our expectations and expanded our thinking about what is possible in the outdoors.

And they have done all this while still respecting the fragile ecosystems they are there to enjoy. I also want to commend the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Through your continued cooperation with Wilderness Inquiry, you are fulfilling the promise of our public lands—that these are shared resources for the enjoyment, recreation, and education of each and every American.

It is important to note that Congressman Sabo and I are not the first Members of Congress to take notice of this important task. My predecessor, Congressman Bruce Vento, also admired the work of Wilderness Inquiry and helped facilitate the first signing of the Memorandum of Understanding in 1997. He recognized that this Memorandum would be an important tool to the mission of increasing opportunities for all people to use and enjoy the programs, facilities, and activities of public lands.

I commend you all for being here today and for your continued support for access to the outdoors. Our public lands, the state of Minnesota and our Nation are better places because of your important work.”

For more information contact Dany Khy at 202-225-6631 D.C. office or through McCollum’s website at www.mccollum.house.gov. At the Office of Congressman Martin Sabo, contact Jenifer Rogness McCormick, Communications Director, 202-225-4755, jenifer.mccormick@mail.house.gov