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Resources available to help disabled enjoy outdoors

The Wisconsin DNR is committed to providing exceptional outdoor recreation opportunities for people of all abilities around the state. In parks and forests, on land and in water, the DNR’s Open the Outdoors program helps ensure that everyone can make memories and learn new skills in Wisconsin’s outdoors.

The DNR would like to remind Wisconsinites, of resources available through Open the Outdoors, as well as recent permit changes that have increased accessibly across the state. Through Open the Outdoors, Wisconsinites with disabilities have access to seasonal adaptive equipment at state parks, including adaptive kayaks, beach wheelchairs and cross country sit skis.

The DNR provides 10 accessible cabins at select state parks and forests, including eight large cabins and two smaller, rustic cabins. For those who would prefer to camp in a tent or RV, the DNR also offers accessible campsites at every state park and forest.

Additionally, hunters with certain physical disabilities are allowed special permits, such as one that allows shooting from a motor vehicle. Some Wisconsin residents with disabilities, are also eligible for a discount on their annual fishing license. And, since the enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), every fishing pier the DNR builds is accessible to people with disabilities.

The Wisconsin DNR recently modified its Manual Code 2527.7, to expand the definition of “wheelchair” and be more inclusive of medical mobility devices. Because of this update, Other Power-Driven Mobility Device (OPDMD) permits are no longer required for off-road wheelchairs, including track chairs, to be operated on state lands.

This revision was made in response to U.S. Department of Justice Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) updates on the use of power-driven mobility devices (PDMD). These ADA updates require public entities to make reasonable modifications to policies, practices and procedures, to allow PDMDs at public facilities.

And, now, thanks to a partnership between the DNR and Access Ability Wisconsin, there are new options for those who want to explore department lands. Access Ability Wisconsin provides all-terrain wheelchairs for rent throughout the state, that can be used for hunting, birding, fishing or simply exploring new paths. Reservations can be made by using Access Ability’s online form.