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Law for accessible federal facilities celebrates 50 years

Contributed photo
Fenn Pond near Lowell allows access to persons with disabilities.

Contributed photo Fenn Pond near Lowell allows access to persons with disabilities.

— The Architectural Barriers Act, which was signed into law 50 years ago this month, influenced federal agencies across the nation to construct facilities that were universally accessible to visitors of varying physical capabilities. The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests has designed visitor centers, trails, and other facilities with the standards set by this law.

The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 (or “ABA;” Pub. Law 90-480) was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Aug. 12, 1968. It was the first legal mandate to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access the built environment at federal facilities. The Act outlined requirements for buildings or facilities that are designed, built, or altered with federal dollars, or leased by federal agencies, to guarantee that they are accessible to everyone. Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards detail the requirements for design and construction of accessible facilities.

On the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, access has been improved at a variety of sites by altering facilities such as rest rooms, picnic tables, and fire rings. Accessible trails, such as the Potlatch Canyon Trail No. 765 near Deary, and the Giant Red Cedar National Recreation Trail No. 748 near Elk River, were developed to allow all visitors the same level of access to popular recreation sites. At Fenn Ranger Station near Lowell, forest visitors can enjoy a boardwalk surrounding Fenn Pond, which allows equal access to fishing opportunities along the Selway River.


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