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The outdoors become accessible to Missourians with disabilities

Ray Schultz, a Missouri Department of Conservation volunteer, is riding an Action Track Chair.
The Missouri Department of Conservation
Ray Schultz, a Missouri Department of Conservation volunteer, rides an Action Track Chair.

Special motorized chairs are making it possible for people with physical disabilities to enjoy Missouri’s state parks.

Action Track Chairs, offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation, have special wheels and controls that enable users to navigate rugged trails and waterways.

Guy Vogt, the assistant outdoor education center manager at August A. Busch shooting range in Defiance, said with the fall hunting season in full swing, the chairs are equipped to do a lot.

“You can take them on hunting trips to get them either closer to their ground blinds whether they’re hunting deer, turkey anything of that sort,” Vogt said. “And fishing because the way they’re designed there they can get a lot closer to the edges of the lakes, rivers or streams and hiking events, trail rides.”

The chairs are charged to last up to eight hours on any excursion. Vogt said while there is not an exact age limit, all users must be able to fit in the chair and have their legs strapped in. So far Vogt said, the responses have been positive.

“People are very excited about getting out and doing some of this,” Vogt said. “Because if they’re in [wheelchairs] now or any sort of disability, they can’t get out into nature. They can’t get into the woods. This is just a great opportunity for them. ”

The department began offering the chairs five years ago after several organizations and companies, including the Missouri Conservation Heritage Federation helped fund and donate the chairs.

There are 12 Action Track Chairs in the state and four in the St. Louis region.

The chairs are only available to those participating in Missouri Department of Conservation events or one of their partnering organizations and 30 days notice is required. Visitors interested in using the chair are advised to contact Vogt at the range.

Follow Marissanne on Twitter: @Marissanne2011

Marissanne is the afternoon newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.

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