Navarino State Wildlife Area recognized for accessibility

Navarino State Wildlife Area sign, March 7, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

NAVARINO (WLUK) -- A large outdoor recreation site is being recognized for providing increased access to the public.

The Navarino State Wildlife Area and Nature Center is breaking down barriers.

From the snow-covered handicap-accessible boardwalk, to the prairie view nearby, Tim Ewing says public access to the Navarino Nature Center is a priority.

"One of the things that we've been working on is to increase activities for handicapped, disabled and seniors," said Ewing, a naturalist at the nature center.

Ewing says about 15,000 visitors come to the nature center each year. That includes about 4,000 students, some with special needs.

"Having the trails, the boardwalk, that kind of stuff in place, helps us to be able to do those programs for them without them losing something," said Ewing.

Accessibility stretches beyond the nature center. The non-profit group is separate from the Navarino State Wildlife Area nearby. The 13,000 acres of outdoor recreation there includes a viewing deck at Pike's Peak Flowage.

"You basically park your car, in a parking lot, you go not even 300 feet, and you're at the viewing deck," said Ewing.

Various versions of waterfowl hunting blinds have been on the same site at McDonald Flowage for more than 20 years. And on the western edge of the property, a fishing pier was installed just last month.

The Disability Advisory Council gives the award each year to an organization which provides opportunities to disabled citizens. Keith Pamperin is on the council, and is also a disabled hunter.

"They have all their trails open by permit for people with disabilities, for turkey and deer hunters, so they've really been involved in making the great outdoors accessible," said Pamperin.

More improvements are on the horizon. "Senior Safaris" are scheduled this year.

The handicapped-accessible trolley rides will give people a chance to tour the wildlife area, while riding safely on the trails.

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