Nature Preserve Accessibility Assessment

The Nature Conservancy is currently in the process of completing an assessment of its nature preserves in Michigan in accordance with the Department of Justice’s amended regulation implementing Title III of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding "Other Power Driven Mobility Devices” (OPDMDs).

While some types of OPDMDs may be accommodated at some Conservancy preserves, there are necessary restrictions on their use. Please contact The Nature Conservancy at (517) 316-0300 or michigan@tnc.org with any questions regarding these policies.

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations address the use of wheelchairs and OPDMDs by persons with mobility disabilities. These rules apply to “public accommodations” which include Conservancy properties open to the public. The regulations provide that with regard to “public accommodations” persons with mobility disabilities are entitled to:

  1. Use wheelchairs and manually powered mobility aids (canes, walkers, etc) in areas that are open to pedestrian use. A “Wheelchair” includes a manually operated device or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability for the main purpose of indoor or both indoor or outdoor locomotion.
  2. Use OPDMDs if the landowner can make “reasonable modifications to its practices to accommodate them.”

While some types of OPDMDs can be accommodated, there are necessary restrictions on their use.

  • Travel speeds shall not exceed 5 mph and head lights must be used.
  • Must stay on designated gravel two-track road.
  • Must be able to safely negotiate trail features, including turning around, without going off the trail.
  • Must yield to pedestrians.
  • Must not be operated in dangerous or reckless manner. A person may be asked to leave the site if the OPDMD is being operated in an unsafe or disruptive manner.
  • The OPDMD should be inspected for invasive plants and seeds before access beyond gate and remove any found.
  • The OPDMD must be operated in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations for the type of activities the device is designed for.
  • The person operating the OPDMD cannot carry another person or object that would cause the OPDMD to tip or become unstable or cause harm to the driver or others on road.
  • Persons accompanying a person with a disability but who do not themselves have a mobility disability are not permitted to use an OPDMD.
  • All internal combustion engine OMPMDs must be equipped with a muffler. No OPDMD may exceed 70 decibels. An electrically powered device is highly preferred due to noise and exhaust odor issues.

Places to Visit
An assessment has been done for the following Conservancy properties in accordance with the ADA regulations.

Echo Lake Nature Preserve, Marquette County
OPDMD access for people with mobility disabilities is limited to the maintained access road and only to those who obtain advance permission and are escorted by Conservancy staff; other restrictions apply.

Ives Road Fen Preserve, Lenawee County
OPDMD access for people with mobility disabilities is limited to two-track trails during guided tours by Conservancy staff; other restrictions apply.

On those properties where OPDMDs are permitted, the following conditions shall also apply:

  • All OPDMDs must be cleaned prior to visitation to ensure there is no mud or other material attached to the OPDMD to ensure that invasive weed seeds are not inadvertently transported to the preserve.
  • Be aware that most of our preserves have other visitation guidelines about use and visitation which must be adhered to. We encourage all visitors to seek preserve information on the web.
  • Use of OPDMDs on preserves by Conservancy staff, contractors, or researchers should not be interpreted as permission for use by the general public. See the list above to identify which preserves allow OPDMD use and under what conditions.
  • TNC does not accept liability for damage to OPDMDs, or injury to the operator, whether caused by the operator, another visitor to the property, or any other circumstance.
  • TNC does not accept liability for damage caused by the operator of the OPDMD, or injury to others caused by the operator of such device.
  • TNC reserves the right to suspend the use of OPDMDs or change, modify or amend its OPDMD policies at any time.
  • TNC does not represent that the TNC property is safe for use by an OPDMD. Certain risks are inherent in the use of natural areas, including rough surfaces and features such as snow, mud, vegetation, tree roots, and water crossings; all users must exercise reasonable care and judgment.