Glen Helen Association wants to improve trail accessibility at nature preserve

The Glen Helen Association wants to make improvements at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve so visitors with limited mobility can access the trail system.

The association’s funding application request to the Dayton Region Priority Development and Advocacy Committee said it is asking for $750,000 toward its $1.25 million project at the 1,125-acre preserve at 405 Corry St. in Yellow Springs in Greene County.

The committee allows organizations to submit ideas they feel are worthy of lobbying and government funding.

“This proposed effort would improve the access to important natural sites in the Glen — such as the Yellow Spring, the Cascades and the Raptor Center (where injured birds of prey are rehabilitated and many released back to the wild) as well as important historical sites within the Glen (such as the prehistoric burial mound area),” wrote John LaRock, superintendent of the Greene County Board of Developmental Disabilities in a letter of support for the project.

The Glen Helen Association in the fall of 2020 purchased the region’s largest private nature preserve from Antioch College, which had closed it for much of the COVID-19 pandemic. The association reopened it to the public and started its campaign drive to restart programs and improve access.

The preserve has 125,000 visitors a year, 15 miles of trails and is the first residential environmental learning facility in the Midwest and Ohio’s first facility for education and rehabilitation of birds of prey, its application stated.

“For wheelchair riders, senior citizens, parents with small children, and many others, the scenic and historical resources of Glen Helen are out of reach,” the association stated in its application. “The COVID pandemic highlighted the need for, and importance of, more access to natural areas like Glen Helen. Not only do those with limited mobility deserve the opportunity to access nature, state and community groups are asking for this access. … Through our accessible trails project, we can welcome visitors with limited mobility who will gain improved access to the preserve’s trail system.”

The accessibility project goals are to:

  • Improve accessibility at all points
  • Designate an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant trail
  • Construct new ADA-compliant parking area off state Route 343
  • Improve parking areas at Corry Street and the Raptor Center to make it ADA-compliant
  • Install ramps to provide access to the Yellow Spring and Birch Creek Cascades
  • Install or update bridges and boardwalks throughout the preserve
  • Develop maps and signage to label accessibility barriers.

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