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Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Use of Mobility Devices on State Forests

Wheelchairs, Manually-Powered Aids, or Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMD) 

The Florida Forest Service (FFS) is committed to making all reasonable efforts to ensure that its outdoor recreation facilities, trails, programs and services are available and accessible to all persons with disabilities. FFS shall provide persons with disabilities the highest feasible level of physical access to pedestrian trail facilities that is reasonable and consistent with the protection of natural and cultural resources and the outdoor recreational experiences of all visitors. Existing pedestrian trails and undeveloped areas, such as those outside the immediate influence of buildings and roads, will not normally be modified to accommodate state forest visitors with mobility disabilities.

FFS and its staff may allow or deny the use of any Other Power-Driven Mobility Device (OPDMD), as defined below, to ensure visitor safety and the protection of natural and cultural resources.  Such determinations shall be based on the immediate or long-term potential to create a substantial risk of serious harm to the state forest, visitor using the OPDMD, other state forest visitors, the environment and natural or cultural resources.

Using Mobility Aids on State Forests

Wheelchairs and Manually-Powered Mobility Aids are allowed anywhere foot traffic is allowed.

Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMD) shall be permitted only for use by people with mobility impairments and shall typically comply with the following specifications for use in Florida State Forests:

  • Speed - The operating speed while on a Florida State Forest trail shall be that of typical walking speed, based on the particular soil type and existing environmental conditions, not to exceed 5 miles per hour.
  • Width - The width shall not typically exceed the trail width. Certain pedestrian routes, trails and undeveloped areas have varying widths due to their natural features and cultural landscapes. As a result, the acceptable width of an OPDMD may be reduced in these areas.
  • Length - Certain pedestrian routes, trails and undeveloped areas may not support the length of certain devices due to natural features or cultural landscapes. The turning radius on OPDMDs should typically be small enough to prevent damage to the trail, natural features and cultural landscapes.
  • Weight - Certain pedestrian routes, trails and undeveloped areas may not support the weight of certain OPDMD devices due to natural features or cultural landscapes.
  • Type - Permissible OPDMDs shall not include any motor vehicle, as defined in section 320.01, Florida Statutes, including, but not limited to cars, trucks, mopeds, and motorcycles. Use of off-highway vehicles, as defined in section 261.03, Florida Statues, shall be limited to Florida Forest Service designated off-highway vehicle areas. Off-highway vehicles include all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), off-highway motorcycles (OHMs) and recreational off-highway vehicles (ROV).

NOTE: Gas-powered vehicles, no matter the type, shall not typically be allowed in any facilities enclosed by walls and/or covered by roofs.

Factors for Determining OPDMD Use on Pedestrian Trails

 FFS shall utilize the following assessment factors outlined in Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 when determining whether a particular OPDMD is suitable for safe use in the outdoor recreational pedestrian area.

  • The type, size, weight, dimensions, and speed of the device;
  • The facility's volume of pedestrian traffic (which may vary at different times of the day, week, month, or year);
  • The facility's trail design and operational characteristics;
  • Whether legitimate safety requirements can be established to permit the safe operation of the OPDMD in the specific trail facility;
  • Whether the use of the OPDMD creates a substantial risk of serious harm to the immediate environment or natural or cultural resources or poses a conflict with Federal land management laws and regulations.

Posting of Information

Information regarding OPDMD use on a trail or other open area in a state forest will be posted on the FFS website for review by the public.

IMPORTANT NOTE- PLEASE CALL BEFORE YOU GO. It is highly recommended that you contact the State Forest in advance of your visit to ensure that your particular OPDMD is approved for use in the particular element(s) and at the particular time(s) you intend to use it.

Inquiry about a Disability

FFS and its staff shall not ask a state forest visitor using a wheelchair, manually powered mobility aid or OPDMD questions about the nature or extent of the state forest visitor's disability.

However, FFS and its staff may ask a state forest visitor using an OPDMD to provide credible assurance that the device is required because of the individual’s mobility impairment. FFS shall accept the following:

  1. Presentation of a valid, State-issued, disability parking placard or card, or other State-issued proof of disability for the individual as credible assurance that the use of the device is for the state forest visitor's mobility impairment.
  2. In lieu of credible assurance documentation, a verbal representation, not contradicted by observable fact, shall be accepted as a credible assurance.

Complaints

In the event a direct request to access a state forest is not resolved in a timely or acceptable manner, a complaint may be filed by the visitor in writing or by telephone to the following person:

Florida Forest Service
3125 Conner Blvd., M.S. C25
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1650

(850) 681-5871
(850) 681-5809 Fax

Steve Bohl 
Steve.Bohl@FreshFromFlorida.com