Statewide radio audience learns about Access for All in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Listen to the Access for All replay

July 24, 2023

“When you fall in love with a place, you look for ways to protect it, to share and to give back.” And that’s exactly what Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Executive Director Jeff Rennicke encouraged a statewide Wisconsin Public Radio audience to do, during a live segment on the Larry Meiller show. Rennicke, Park Superintendent Lynne Dominy and Accessibility Advocate Janet Badura talked about efforts to make the park more accessibile to people of all abilities and how Meiller’s listening audience can get involved.

Dominy said, “Supporting accessibility is investing in everyone’s quality of life and everyone’s future. We will all have different needs through our entire life, and when we look at things like universal design, we can help assure that we continue to experience our national park areas through every stage in our life.”
Conceptual drawing of switchback ramp from the parking lot down to the beach

Meyers Beach Ramp concept drawing – click. to enlarge

One of those universal design projects is the $650,000 accessible ramp planned to replace a steep, aging staircase at Meyers Beach, the gateway for people who want to paddle to the mainland sea caves. The ramp will give everyone an easier route up and down the 23-foot-tall bank. Plans also call for an easier way to move kayaks up and down the hill. “Think about everybody who gets a benefit out of removing stairs,” Dominy said. “It’s really an investment in everyone.”
Rennicke told the audience, on the radio and online, that “we are about half way in our fundraising efforts. We’d like to get them done by the end of October and you can help us do that by helping us with our Access for All initiative.” You can donate here. Dominy said the goal is to match the money Friends is raising with money from the National Park Service or its partners. “We’re hoping to raise enough money to make that match at the end of this summer, so we can move this project forward and and potentially fund it next year to get it fixed,” she said.
“It’s really important to have partners like the Friends of the Apostle Islands, and advocates that really show what a difference these things can make and to do it together. There’s a lot to be done. We can do it as a community, together, a little at a time. Not only in the Lakeshore but in the communities around us.”
Lynne Dominy

Superintendent, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Dominy said the Park Service is proud of the many accessibility initiatives that have been completed over the years and are under way in the park now. She talked about the teamwork required to make what seems to be impossible possible; doing things like building boardwalks to provide access to wetlands while protecting them at the same time, making lighthouses accessible or providing virtual views for those unable to climb to the top, and making accessible campsites near accessible privies and water fountains.

Rennicke added, “If national parks do really belong to all of us, that has to include the 1 in 5 Americans who face mobility challenges every day. That’s 61 million people. And if you add to that the millions more who experience vision or hearing or even cognitive challenges, it quickly becomes clear that for many people, obstacles in national parks can be the difference between the trip of a lifetime and being left behind.”

You can listen to a replay of the Larry Meiller show here. During the broadcast you will hear power wheelchair user Janet Badura describe her experiences in the Apostle Islands, including the unexpected solution to navigating the existing Meyers Beach stairs. You’ll also hear questions and comments from listeners, including Friends member Daniel Skenderian who says Access for All offers hope to people with motor disabilities and he is proud to be part of it. We encourage you to listen to the program, to learn more about Access for All, and to invest in our cause.

Access for All logo

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