by Heather Obara, Associate Director, Alachua Conservation Trust
Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) has been awarded a $5,000 grant from REI Co-op in support of the nonprofit land trust’s effort to install an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessible Trail at Serenola Forest Preserve in Gainesville.
Opened in 2019 in partnership with Alachua County and the Florida Communities Trust, Serenola Forest Preserve is a 111-acre nature preserve owned and managed by ACT. The preserve is located in the Idylwild neighborhood near Idylwild Elementary School and the Oak Hammock Retirement Community. Not only does the preserve provide a critical wildlife corridor, it also provides public recreational opportunities for hiking, biking, and nature observation along a 1-mile trail system.
With support from REI as well as additional partners, ACT plans to install a .75-mile ADA accessible trail that connects to the existing trail system as well as to a picnic area. Currently, ACT is working to install a parking area with handicap parking spaces for individuals with disabilities. This parking area will be located near the proposed location for the ADA trail and will link directly with the trail. This trail and parking area will increase accessibility for individuals with physical disabilities and create opportunities for these individuals as well as their family and friends to enjoy the outdoor recreational activities offered at the preserve.
“Through this project, we will be able to expand access to our preserve and ultimately to nature for individuals in our community that are living with disabilities,” said ACT community outreach coordinator, Heather Obara. “We are excited to partner with REI on this important project to create greater access to nature and promote healthy living in the Gainesville community.”
As a member-owned co-op, REI invests deeply in the outdoors focusing on efforts to create equity in nature, promote health in the outdoors, and address the effects of climate change. As a 2021 grant recipient, ACT will partner with the staff at REI Gainesville over the next two years to promote local conservation efforts. “
At REI, our goal is to inspire life outside for everyone,” said Wendy Green, REI Gainesville store manager. “We are proud to work with organizations like Alachua Conservation Trust who are creating access to outdoor places in our community.”
To learn more about REI’s investment, visit www.rei.com/h/philanthropy.
For more information about Alachua Conservation Trust and the Serenola Forest Preserve ADA Accessible Trail Project, call (353) 373-1078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.