(S.D.)-Black Hills Employee Receives National Recognition For Accessibility Work
Photo: Darci Collins with her father, Jay Masden, after she received the National Accessibility Award.
(BLACK HILLS NATIONAL FOREST)-The U.S. Forest Service recently announced national accessibility accomplishment awards highlighting three national winners, to recognize extraordinary efforts to integrate accessibility into national forests and grasslands facilities in an effort to better serve all visitors.
The “Individual Accessibility Commitment and Leadership” accomplishments award from the National Leadership of the U.S. Forest Service was recently presented to Darci Collins, Civil Engineering Technician in the Black Hills National Forest. Collins is described as the “go-to” person at the Black Hills National Forest for any information related to accessibility. Her knowledge of accessibility and her ability to find practical ways to meet the guidelines are respected by Forest, contract, and Regional Office employees as well as by permit holders, partners and cooperators. Collins’ dedication and energy have resulted in accessibility being integrated into recreation sites, facilities, and all other areas of the forest.
“Darci exemplifies the passion and skill needed to make our outdoor recreation facilities accessible for all Americans, both today and for future generations,” said Craig Bobzien, Forest Supervisor.
There are 54 million people in the U.S. who have disabilities, the largest minority in the country. The Forest Service has more than 20,000 accessible recreation units, such as campsites and picnic areas, and more than 7,000 accessible recreation buildings. In surveys, roughly seven percent of national forest and grassland visitors self-disclosed that at least one person in their group had a disability, which translates to roughly 14 million of the Forest Service’s 172 million recreation visitors each year.
“The Forest Service is the only entity with legally mandated accessibility guidelines for developed outdoor recreation sites and so the agency exceeds the minimum requirements of the federal accessibility guidelines,” said Janet Zeller, the agency’s manager. “When accessibility is integrated into a project from the beginning there is little or no additional expense.”
U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recognized three national winners and 18 national honorees in three categories. Collins was the only individual presented with an award. The other two awards were presented to Forest Service Units or Teams, one to the employees of the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire, and one to the Intermountain Region Design Team.
The Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines and the Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines are available free online. Learn more about the agency’s National Accessibility Program.
--Submitted by the U. S. Forest Service
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