The DNR is introducing track chairs to state parks, including Bemidji’s, for those with mobility disabilities.
Track chairs are off-road, electric-powered chairs that can be used on designated trails within state parks.
These chairs can help visitors explore areas of state parks on trails that are not suitable for regular wheelchairs.
Track chairs can be reserved by calling the parks they’re available in, and there is no cost to use them.
“Minnesota state parks are for everyone to enjoy, regardless of age or ability,” Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Assistant Commissioner Shannon Lotthammer said.
“Adaptive equipment like these all-terrain track chairs allows visitors to explore the great outdoors. Along with other parks and trails providers across the state—like our partners in Olmsted County and the Jay C. Hormel Nature Center—we hope to provide a system of adaptive-supported recreation opportunities, from backyard to backcountry.”
Approximately one in four people in the U.S. are living with some form of disability.
State park vehicle permits are required for all vehicles entering the park, with discounts available for those with a disability hangtag.
The track chair won’t be available at Lake Bemidji State Park until mid-June but should be available at other state parks starting today.
More information is available on the DNR website.
The project is a partnership between the DNR and the Minnesota Council on Disability.
“We know spending time in nature provides significant health and wellness benefits to people,” MCD Executive Director David Dively said.
“Providing adaptive equipment like the track chairs for visitors to use is critical to ensuring all Minnesotans have access to these outdoor opportunities and furthers our work to ensure Minnesotans with disabilities can live, work, and play in the communities they choose.”