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'We want everybody to be able to access nature': New tool opens The Ridges Sanctuary to more people

Posted at 5:00 PM, Sep 25, 2023
  • Video shows the Trackchair that is available to rent for free at The Ridges Sanctuary.
  • The Trackchair can maneuver in wood-chips, sand and snow.
  • With money raised from donors, improvements are being made to the Trackchair program.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

The Ridges Sanctuary in Baileys Harbor has been on a mission to make experiencing nature accessible for everyone. I’m your Door County neighborhood reporter Katlyn Holt, and a new tool in their possession has made this a possibility.

"It's really invaluable to us," said Anna Foster, director of programming at The Ridges Sanctuary.

She says making the sanctuary accessible for everyone is a priority.

"We want everybody to be able to access nature and so this Trackchair is just one way that we're continuing to do that," Foster said.

The project took off when a group called Kinect M1 out of Green Bay donated a Trackchair they had purchased with grant money to the Ridges Sanctuary.

"We ended up getting the Trackchair donation in, I think, February this year, and then started programming in May," said Foster.

Anna told me they hope to use the Trackchair throughout each season. Currently the chair is available for use at the Family Discovery Trail where it can explore about a mile of the sanctuary.

In July, the ridges sanctuary hosted a "Trackchair month," where more than $6,500 in donations was raised by more than 35 donors.

This money will help the Ridges Sanctuary to purchase an enclosed trailer for the Trackchair, a solar charger, educational signage about the Trackchair, trail signage and infrastructure improvements that will allow for expansion of the Trackchair trail.

"It's really going to allow us to expand our Trackchair program and make the Trackchair available to more people throughout the year," Foster said.

Not only have families utilized the Trackchair, but also school field trips, Foster said. They hope by getting the word out that more people will take advantage of the opportunity.

The Trackchair can maneuver in wood chips, sand and snow, bringing a new world of accessibility to those who were limited before.

"We also have an attendant control for the track chair, which is basically a separate control that somebody walking next to the Trackchair can use," Foster said.

The Ridges Sanctuary has the Trackchair available to rent for free.

"It's really heartwarming to see people who you know, haven't been able to experience the rustic trails of the sanctuary either in years or ever," said Foster.

If you’re interested in exploring nature on the Trackchair here is a link with more information about reservations.