The BLM is committed to ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to access the public lands by providing access to its facilities, programs, services, and activities on the public lands for people with disabilities. Much progress has been made toward that goal, but there is still much to do to achieve the desired level of access.
To meet these challenges, the BLM manages its accessibility program from its national office, with collateral-duty state accessibility coordinators in regional offices. Key elements of the BLM’s National Accessibility Program include:
- Systematic accessibility evaluations at developed recreation sites
- Technical assistance to BLM field offices on accessibility issues
- Accessibility training and education for field staff and managers
- Developing action plans for corrective actions on evaluated developed recreation sites
- Internal and external media and communication activities
- Coordination and cooperation with other Federal agencies and partners
Accessibility for Disabled Veterans on America's Public Lands
For disabled veterans, recreation on BLM-managed lands and rivers is a great way to improve physical and mental well-being. The benefits of participation in recreational activities are proven to enhance self-perception and quality of life.
Across the National System of Public Lands, the BLM provides accessible recreation opportunities for disabled veterans and their families. The public lands experience can be as unique as the individual, and the essence of the adventure will keep drawing you back. Accessible facilities for camping, hiking, picnicking, biking, off-highway vehicle (OHV) rides, and a multitude of other activities are available. A number of qualified and permitted BLM outfitters and other service providers are prepared to offer services and assistance to you.
For more than 30 years, the BLM has encouraged qualified outfitters and other service providers to take disabled veterans on raft trips and other adventures. The BLM issues special recreation permits (SRPs) to these outfitters, known as permittees, to help ensure that natural and cultural resources are protected, that visitor health and safety is addressed, and that the number of visitors does not exceed the capacity of the land. The SRP program is intended to enhance the public lands experience, not only for those who visit today, but also for those who follow. Some BLM permittees have worked with disabled veterans and specialized in serving all people with disabilities for over 20 years.
Permitted outfitters work closely with BLM field offices, as well as with the Veterans Administration and non-profit groups, in coordinating a number of recreational opportunities and events. One such event in eastern Utah regularly includes a large group from the Salt Lake City Veteran's Administration Hospital, whose participants enjoy a whitewater raft trip down the Colorado River through Westwater Canyon, a popular Class IV section of river. (Due to the high demand, remote nature, and management prescription, a private or commercial permit is required year round in Westwater Canyon.)