County of Marin - News Releases - Inclusive Access to Parks

For Immediate Release
August 10, 2016

Parks’ Goal: Improve Access to Those of All Abilities

Open Space District Board adopts Inclusive Access Plan to enhance recreation

San Rafael, CA – The County of Marin offers some great news for those who are eager to enjoy gorgeous open space preserves: Marin County Parks is taking measures to increase recreational opportunities for people using the open space trail system regardless of their abilities.

A man pushes himself in a wheelchair and a woman holding a white cane walks beside him on a paved trail in a forestThe goal of the Inclusive Access Plan is to increase the equitability of access to all County open space and help visitors plan their visits.
At its August 9 meeting, the Marin County Open Space District Board of Directors adopted the County’s first Inclusive Access Plan for open space preserves in a culmination of ambitious efforts to create more recreational options for people of all abilities. The directors also approved an addendum to the Road and Trail Management Plan Tiered Programmatic Environmental Impact Report.

The goal of the Inclusive Access Plan is to increase the equitability of access to all County open space and help visitors plan their visits according to their own physical abilities.

The final plan includes:

  • Incorporation of appropriate accessible design features in open space preserves;
  • Guidelines for communicating trail condition and trailhead amenity information;
  • Basic design and location selection for a system of destination-oriented trails that would maximize access to the various habitat and outdoor experiences found on trails for users of all abilities, and;
  • Updates to policies that make it possible for the Open Space District to manage issues presented by rapid technological change — for example, other power-driven mobility devices that are capable of navigating steep and uneven terrain.

The draft plan was presented to the Marin County Parks and Open Space Commission in November 2015. Since then and presentation of the draft final plan to the Commission on July 21, 2016, the following changes were made to the final plan:

  • Revisions to the policy for other power-driven mobility devices to allow exceptions for groups of four or more users on a case-by-case basis, and to state that those powered devices shall yield to equestrians and pedestrians;
  • Definitions to clarify terms, abbreviations and acronyms;
  • Final list of Access and Discovery trails;
  • The extent of trail improvement was refined based on public, staff and natural resource considerations.

“All Marin residents deserve an opportunity to make their own connection with the natural environments that make our county the unique place in the world that it is,” said Carl Somers, Chief of Planning and Acquisition for Marin County Parks. “The Inclusive Access Plan is a comprehensive vision for how we make that goal a reality.”

Development of the plan included review and analysis of current state, federal, and County requirements, standards, and best-practice guidelines relating to accessibility in open space areas. Staff provided opportunities for community engagement and conducted special outreach to organizations and stakeholders who have a primary interest in access issues.

The Inclusive Access Plan has been made possible by funding from Measure A, a nine-year, quarter-cent retail and use tax passed by voters in November 2012. Measure A funding is meant to care for Marin’s existing parks and open spaces, support regional community park projects and programs, and further farmland preservation.


Craig Richardson
Senior Open Space Planner
Marin County Parks

Marin Civic Center
Suite 260
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-7057
Email: Craig Richardson
Marin County Parks website