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 Board Releases Draft of Final Guidelines for Federal Outdoor Sites October 19, 2009


The Board has released for public review a draft of final guidelines covering access to outdoor sites managed by the Federal government, including national parks and recreation areas. These guidelines address how to achieve accessibility in outdoor developed areas and take into account challenges and constraints posed by terrain, the degree of development, and other factors. They specify where compliance is required and provide detailed technical criteria for new or altered trails, beach routes, and picnic and camping facilities. The guidelines will apply to sites developed or altered by Federal land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others. The guidelines also will apply to non-federal entities that construct or alter facilities on Federal lands on behalf of the Federal government.

The Board is finalizing the guidelines based on public comments it received in response to a proposed version published in 2007. The released draft includes revisions made to clarify various provisions and exceptions. Conditions that necessitate departures are recognized, including situations where meeting certain provisions would compromise natural features, require prohibited construction methods or materials, or be infeasible due to terrain.

The Board is releasing a draft of the final guidelines to allow interested parties the opportunity to comment on the revised format. As initially proposed, the guidelines were organized as a stand-alone document. The Board has restructured the final version for integration into the Board's existing guidelines for facilities covered by the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA), which were issued jointly with guidelines updated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA and ABA guidelines cover a variety of elements and spaces that are often part of outdoor developed areas, including parking, restrooms, drinking fountains, and recreation facilities. Integrating the criteria for outdoor sites into the existing guidelines will be beneficial for many users by bringing all relevant information together in one source. However, to preserve some of the benefits of a stand-alone document, the Board plans to prepare a companion guide on the final rule in cooperation with Federal land management agencies.

The draft final guidelines, which include instructions for submitting comments, are available for review and comment until December 18, 2009. The document also can viewed, and comments to it submitted, through For further information, contact Bill Botten at the Board at, (202) 272-0014 (v), or (202) 272-0082 (TTY). The Board intends to develop similar guidelines for outdoor developed areas controlled by non-Federal entities at a future date.

Additional information on this rulemaking is posted on the outdoor developed areas homepage.