Wisconsin's Navarino Wildlife Area honored for accessibility

An accessible fishing pier is one of many features for people
with disabilities found at Navarino Wildlife Area. (DNR)
FITCHBURG, Wis.- The Navarino State Wildlife Area has been honored with the Disability Advisory Council Richard Welsh Memorial Award for Outstanding Property. This is the first time a Wisconsin state wildlife property has been given this award.

Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff stationed at Shawano and the staff at the non-profit Navarino Nature Center, which is located on the state property, have been working together to provide accessibility to all hunters, students, visitors and other's enjoying nature, including those with disabilities.

Navarino Wildlife Area is unique in Wisconsin. By incorporating a non-profit nature center on state land, and forming a partnership to provide environmental education, the variety of programs, activities and available grants are numerous. Both DNR and Navarino Nature Center programs are enhanced by this close bond. Local communities and larger regional centers, such as Green Bay and Appleton, all benefit.

Kay Brockman-Mederas, wildlife biologist and property manager, and John Huff, Peshtigo area wildlife supervisor, accepted the award at a recent meeting of the Disability Advisory Council in Fitchburg. The presentation included comments on the nature center displays and facility, its accessible boardwalk over Glenn's Pond, the accessible waterfowl blind and viewing areas, disabled hunter access permits and the recent addition of a fishing pier on the Wolf River donated by Shadows on the Wolf, a conservation organization founded by hunters and anglers.

Other opportunities on Navarino Wildlife Area include an auto tour (booklet or CD available) which explains history and management, an interactive visitor's map, prairie and tree identification tags on nearby plants, interpretive signage along trails, "Senior Safaris" trolley tours and an accessible dock on the Wolf River.

Creating outdoor opportunities for all ages and abilities is a focus of many ongoing and new projects. These include expanding accessible trails around the nature center, boardwalk renovations, "Nature Playscape" development, more media-based messages, and fundraising for a new outdoor education resource facility.

For more information, the "Open the Outdoors" webpage explains accessible opportunities in Wisconsin. Navarino State Wildlife Area information is available on the DNR website. The Navarino Nature Center (exit DNR) website is linked through the wildlife area webpage.