By Andrea Villanueva
This past year Red Rock Audubon Society (RRAS) has been a hub for a variety of bird-related activities. From exploring mindfulness to nature journaling, members have been able to attend lots of new and fun events. However, those behind Red Rock Audubon Society have not only aimed to expand the types of events we offer but also increase the accessibility of the events we have for our members.
In 2022, I had the pleasure of meeting with the president of an organization called the Trail Access Project. The Trail Access Project is an adaptive hiking group that partners with a local neuro recovery center called Driven to encourage those with physical and intellectual disabilities to go out and experience outdoor spaces. A part of the work that the Trail Access Project does is visiting trails around Clark County and determining where each trail can improve in regards to accessibility and reaching out to land managers to discuss these modifications. During my meeting with Ed Price, the president of the Trail Access Project, I was able to discuss how RRAS can make our birding events more accessible. I was able to learn that many of the trails that RRAS has events on have accessible pathways for those with disabilities. Some of our regular meeting places such as Wetlands Park, Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, and Corn Creek all have accessible trails!
Since my original meeting with Ed, RRAS has been able to partner with the Trail Access Project and Driven to host a few bird-watching outings. The most recent accessible birding event was held on April 29th at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve (HBVP). Many attendees were new to birding, so seeing all the amazing birds at the HBVP was truly a fun learning experience for everyone. We got to see American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, Turkey Vultures, and plenty of our resident birds. I was also able to use this event as a learning experience for myself. I learned all the small modifications that organizations like RRAS can do to help make birding events more accessible. Such modifications include avoiding steep hills along your route, including frequent shady rest areas and spray bottles on hot days, and avoiding mushy soil or bird droppings along the trail. All very easy modifications that all the RRAS trip leaders or any organization can include in all programs!
Outdoor spaces are meant to be accessible to everyone. As the head of the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Committee, my goal is to also advocate for increased accessibility on public lands and increase accessibility within RRAS during our events. If you would like to learn more about accessibility within birding I encourage you to explore the Birdability website and reach out to public land managers if you have any concerns about accessibility on a trail. Also, keep an eye out on the RRAS calendar for future accessible birding events!