Fort McCoy News Sept. 11, 2015

Fishing access improved for people with disabilities

STORY & PHOTO BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The placement of new piers, walkways, and ramps at selected Fort McCoy lakes and ponds has improved fishing access for people with disabilities.

The project, funded through appropriated funds in accordance to recent Army guidance to improve handicapped accessibility in recreational areas, was completed through a multiagency effort by the Directorate of Public Works (DPW); Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR); and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security (DPTMS).

Areas receiving new piers and other upgrades are Squaw, Stillwell, Sandy, and Big Sandy lakes and Swamp and Sparta ponds.

Photo
Two fishermen use the new pier at Sparta Pond at Fort McCoy. New piers were installed recently at several post lakes and ponds to allow greater access for people with disabilities.

"We have found over the years that we did not have a good alternative for anglers and recreational users with disabilities, such as Wounded Warriors," said Fort McCoy Fisheries Biologist John Noble with DPW's Natural Resources Branch (NRB). "The NRB did an assessment of access for all lakes, flowages, and ponds. We then took the (assessment) results and worked with DPTMS and DFMWR to make recommendations for improving access for anglers with disabilities through a project submitted to DPW for consideration."

The project was approved earlier in 2015 and work began in late spring, said DPW Engineering Technician Chris Wills.
"Our task in the design was to make the access areas compliant with the Architectural Barriers Act, which is a federal law that requires all federal facilities built to have required accommodations for people with disabilities," Wills said.

Wills said to meet federal guidelines, DPW engineers ensured the project was designed with wheelchair-accessible parking areas, paths, and ramps to the piers, which also are accessible and have compliant railings. "Everything, as designed and constructed, has improved overall access to these areas for people with disabilities," he said.

Noble added, "At Stillwell, for example, a small parking area with a boardwalk was established with compliant slopes to these new piers. Also, a completely new structure was installed at Sparta Pond."

Noble said anglers with disabilities also should know they are eligible for reduced-rate Fort McCoy fishing permits for $8. The annual fishing permit fee normally is $13.

More information about Fort McCoy permit and licensing requirements can be found at the Fort McCoy i-Sportsman website at https://ftmccoy.isportsman.net or by calling the Permit Sales Office at 608-388-3337.

To report any problems with the new piers and related areas, call the DPW Helpline at 608-388-4357. For more information about the project, call 608-388-8940.