Wildlife for Everyone Foundation developing wetland to be fully accessible, ADA compliant

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CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – There’s nothing like the great outdoors, which is why the Wildlife for Everyone Foundation is on a mission to ensure that no one misses out on it.

“We take it for granted if we’re healthy, just how easy it is to go outside but some….who have those limitations who may need it as much, if not more than others, just can’t,” pointed out WFEF public relations coordinator Barbara Schroeder.

The 17-year-old non-profit organization is in the process of developing the Soaring Eagle Wetland to be completely ADA compliant.

“Regardless if you’re a mother with a stroller, or somebody in a wheelchair or just a senior citizen, we want to connect everyone with nature and the beautiful outdoors,” said WFEF board member Jerry Regan.

The vision is to offer full accessibility, all the way from the parking lot to the Bald Eagle Creek.

Mowed trail at Soaring Eagle Wetland

“With a fully accessible trail, an ADA compliant fishing platform for those in wheelchairs, blinds, a pavilion, interpretive signage and restrooms,” said Schroeder.

Upon completion, Schroeder says the project will not only offer visitors an outdoor classroom and nature observatory, but an escape.

“Especially with the pandemic, the increase in the number of people who are going into the outdoors has increased astronomically so they realize the benefits of being outside, the increased sense of wellbeing, restorative powers of being outside…so this will be another opportunity, another destination,” said Schroeder.

WFEF says the project will happen in 3 phases. Just wrapping the first, the organization hopes to finish phase 2 next year, and phase 3, the year after that.

In the meantime, folks can enjoy WFEF’s second signature developed wetland across the road, the Dreibelbis Birding Area. Featuring two accessible blinds, as well as a connecting linear trail that stretches into the heart of the wetland, visitors can expect to catch glimpses of its over 190 species of migrant and breeding birds.

“In the summer we’ll have wood ducks breeding here, really beautiful, hooded mergansers, mallards, Canada geese…and just now when we were walking on the trail we saw a magnolia warbler and what these birds do is they fly at night, and then when it gets light they start looking for a place to come down. So they look at this this area and say wow this is a good place to come down and then they’ll heavily feed,” explained board member and ornithologist Margaret Brittingham.

According to Regan, stopping by whether it be to journal in the quiet or snap a few photography pictures, he says what you’ll see is an invaluable price of a sight, that’s completely free.

“That’s something that’s really important to us too that people regardless of their means have a chance where they can come out and enjoy this beautiful place,” said Regan.

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