|Janet paddling in Utah.|
|Janet providing consulation at Crotched Mountain |
in New Hampshire. Photo by Donna Moxley of NHPR.
Janet is a fountain of zest for teaching and working with people. "There are two things I need in a job," she said, "something challenging and that makes a difference to people - and this the job for me!" She instructs Forest Service employees and the 5000+ outfitters who provide recreation programs and trips on national forest lands on how to be in compliance with the federal accessibility laws and standards without "undercutting the quality of the experience while also paying attention to safety". The network of Forest Service employees around the country can help match people to the type of recreation experience they are looking for with the type of access they need. Thanks to Janet, the range of their expertise includes an array of accessibility information, from places to go on your own to what types of wheeled devices are allowed in wilderness areas to the essential eligibility criteria each participant must meet to go on wilderness excursions.
"America's Big Backyard" as Janet calls the Forest Service lands, is 193 million acres, visited by 172 million people per year. This really puts our own work within the Massachusetts State Park system into perspective! I can barely fathom what must be required to keep a nationwide agency up to speed on accessibility. Two things I learned: Janet conducts monthly webinars on a wide range of accessibility topics for employees and the Forest Service will soon be introducing an online guide to short hikes around the country that meet access guidelines and provide great experiences to waterfalls, scenic vistas and other beautiful spots.
Janet is a firm believer that such opportunities provide incentive for people to begin and continue outdoor adventure on their own. All you need to do is ask - Forest Service staff on the national forest you plan to visit can link you to local opportunities to match the type of recreation and means of access you are looking for on national forest lands and friendly outfitters who may operate elsewhere too. Here in New England, our national forests are the Green Mountains in Vermont and the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. Possibilities expand across the US where national forest lands are more concentrated.
Janet found her way back to the wilderness again in her favorite way - on the water. Paddling - which she calls "the ultimate equalizer" - provides remarkable access to wilderness areas. One of her most favorite places is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of northern Minnesota, an extensive region of lakes and rivers shared by the U.S. and Canada. (Anyone interested in paddling there can contact Wilderness Inquiry - I've been on their trips and Janet and I agree about how wonderful they are!) It seems that where ever Janet goes, positive change follows. She inspired the first prototype of an adaptive canoe seat by Colin Twitchell of Hampshire College, which is now available for sale at Creating Ability. She wrote the manual on adaptive paddling with others that is the standard in the industry. She also trains paddling instructors in adaptive techniques, co-instructing the American Canoeing Association Adaptive Paddling course where she fits in most of her paddling these days. Luckily she's got two of those coming up - in San Antonio in April, and Alaska next September.
(The next ACA Adaptive Paddling Workshop in New England will be hosted by Northeast Passage and take place June 7 - 10, 2012 in Durham, NH hosted by Northeast Passage, Contact: Crystal Skahan (603) 862-0070, firstname.lastname@example.org )
Thanks for your great work Janet!! - and kudos to the U.S. Forest Service for their pro-active approach to access for all!!