For Jeff Briggs, retired ecologist and Poestenkill Community Forest’s volunteer steward, the community forest’s miles of hiking trails weren't enough. He wanted a way for people with limited mobility to enjoy nature, too.
“What could a person with limited mobility do other than enjoy a picnic lunch and observe the sounds and scene of the parking area?” Jeff remembers thinking.
Jeff educated himself on the requirements and possibilities of accessible trails, compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and started scouting for a location within the Poestenkill Community Forest. He wanted something close to parking but with exposure to different habitats.
“I am just so happy to have a place in nature to take the babies in their strollers.”
- Local mom
With guidance from experts, help from volunteers, and donated gravel, lumber, and professional services, Jeff's dream of an accessible trail in nature came true and the trail was completed in Fall 2020. Now many more people will be able to relax among hemlocks and pause by a wetland with no cars in sight.
And the name? It's for Jeff's mother, Dorothy, who relied on a wheelchair for mobility later in her life. Jeff remembers taking her for car rides and having few options of places to enjoy the outdoors together. That’s when he started thinking about accessibility.
"Now here we are," Jeff says, "with a trail for everyone.”
Jeff and RPA thank McCrea Burnham of New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for his guidance on the trail route and regulatory issues, The Rensselaer Land Trust–Rensselaer Plateau Alliance volunteer Trail Crew for their hard work, Warren W. Fane, Inc., for donating gravel and loaning equipment, Callanan Industries, Inc. for donating stone dust, and Jim Slavin for donating materials to complete a boardwalk over the wetland.