Sensory Trail Open at Stony Brook
A self-guided post-and-rope trail for the visually impaired has become reality due to a collaborative community effort between Mass Audubon, the Commonwealth's Department of Conservation and Recreation, Perkins School for the Blind, and local Lions' Clubs. Also pitching in were employees from Timberland and boy scouts from Troop 61 in Wrentham who dug 130 post holes for the trail that ends on a boardwalk overlooking Kingfisher Pond. Take a guided tour with sanctuary director Doug Williams and the Attleboro Sun Chronicle.
But all the hard work was well worth the effort as approximately 40 people, including Senator Scott Brown and State Representative Richard Ross, celebrated the grand opening of the Sensory Trail at Mass Audubon's Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary and Bristol Blake State Reservation in Norfolk.
"The Sensory Trail not only provides an opportunity for the visually impaired to experience nature by themselves if they care to, it also provides context for each of us to understand nature more carefully by using all of our senses," noted Mass Audubon President Laura Johnson at the dedication. "Mass Audubon hopes that every individual who traverses this accessible trail will be inspired by the fascinating natural wonders that surround us daily."
The wide trail is wheelchair accessible and includes 11 stops through varied woodland, fields, and wetland habitat. A round fishing float on a rope indicates each stop, and a square float indicates a bench where one can stop and listen to wildlife or take in the smell of pine trees, or feel how the bark of a red oak and cherry tree differ. Each stop has an interpretive identification sign in English and Braille.
In addition to learning interesting facts about the ecology of this area, visitors will also find out about the social history of the 250-acre sanctuary. Before beginning your walk, stop in the Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary Nature Center to pick up an interpretive trail guide in large print, Braille, or MP3 audio format (ZIP 12MB).
|(L to R): Mass Audubon Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary Director Doug Williams, Frank Zolli of the Norfolk Lions Club, Mass Audubon President Laura Johnson, Representative Richard Ross, Jerry Berrier, Senator Scott Brown, DCR Parks and Recreation Director Priscilla Geigis, and former Mass Audubon Regional Director Sally Sharp Lehman at the grand opening celebration of the Sensory Trail.|
Photo Credit: Hughes Photography
Lions Clubs in Norfolk, Wrentham, and Franklin, as well the Lions District 33K and the Lions Club International Foundation contributed funding for the trail. The total cost of the trail came in at less than $25,000 due to the volunteer efforts of many individuals, including blind consultant Jerry Berrier, who also recorded the audio for the tape. Staff at the Perkins School for the Blind edited the Braille interpretive signage along the trail while DCR's Universal Access Program advised on landscaping and other accessible components.
"DCR has long been in the forefront of providing accessible facilities and programs that allow people of all abilities to enjoy outdoor recreation experiences in our Massachusetts state parks," said DCR Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. "This new Sensory Trail offers a wonderful opportunity for people with limited vision to experience the outdoors in a meaningful and rewarding way. DCR is very proud to have been a partner in this project."
"The Sensory Trail represents the shared values of many individuals," added Mass Audubon's Stony Brook Wildlife Sanctuary Director Doug Williams. "We thank everyone who had a part in bringing to life the vision of this unusual trail, and in particular the members of the Stony Brook Sanctuary Committee. We hope people will take time out of their busy days to visit and linger along the path to savor the natural beauty of this special landscape."