Tennessee Expands Access with All-Terrain Wheelchairs in State Parks

Tennessee introduces all-terrain wheelchairs in seven more state parks.

Tennessee State Parks have made a significant move towards inclusivity and accessibility by adding all-terrain wheelchairs to seven additional parks across the state. This initiative, announced on Disability Advocacy Day in Tennessee, aims to ensure that all visitors, regardless of mobility limitations, can enjoy the natural beauty and recreational opportunities the parks offer. The addition brings the total to 12 parks within the state that now provide this valuable service.

Greer Tidwell, the deputy commissioner of Conservation for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), expressed enthusiasm for the initiative, emphasizing the state’s commitment to serving every visitor and enhancing their park experience. The effort has been supported by Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly, who have provided the necessary funding.

The parks that are now equipped with the new wheelchairs include Cove Lake State Park, Cumberland Mountain State Park, Cummins Falls State Park, Chickasaw State Park, Long Hunter State Park, Natchez Trace State Park, and Warriors’ Path State Park. These wheelchairs are specially designed to handle various terrains, offering an opportunity for visitors with limited mobility to explore and enjoy outdoor activities that might have been challenging or inaccessible before.

The announcement coincides with the unveiling of a new 3,600 sq. ft. ADA accessible overlook at Cummins Falls State Park, which is reachable via the Falls Overlook Trail. This addition highlights the state’s broader commitment to improving accessibility within its parks, including trail improvements and the provision of non-electric wheelchair access.

Representative Sam Whitson, a key advocate for the initiative, highlighted the importance of removing barriers for individuals with disabilities, aligning with the state’s goal to make Tennessee’s park system the most accessible in the nation. With over $1.2 million allocated for the all-terrain wheelchairs and an additional $1.6 million for trail accessibility improvements, Tennessee is setting a benchmark for inclusive recreational experiences in natural settings.

Visitors interested in utilizing an all-terrain wheelchair are encouraged to contact the parks in advance to ensure availability. This initiative is part of TDEC’s ongoing efforts to expand access and enhance the visitor experience for everyone, reinforcing the beauty and openness of Tennessee’s natural landscapes for all to enjoy.

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