With your help, we have reached and exceeded our $40,000 fundraising goal to implement universal, barrier-free access at Bow in the Clouds Preserve in Kalamazoo!
Thanks to generous donations from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, several funding partners, many SWMLC members, and members of the public, we will begin Phase 1 construction in the spring, with a grand opening of the preserve anticipated this fall.
“SWMLC is immensely grateful to all of the donors who have made this project possible, including the friends and families of Delaney Bush, Mark McKay, and Nolan Nordbrock who made memorial contributions to help create a place in nature that is accessible to all. We are pleased to be able to honor the memories of these special individuals with this very important project.”
In partnership with the Disability Network Southwest Michigan, SWMLC has created a universal access plan for Bow in the Clouds Preserve. Phase 1 of the plan will include:
1. A barrier-free loop trail that will be smooth and level in the upland area of the preserve that people with wheelchairs or walkers, or those with visual challenges can navigate
2. A new trailhead that will be oriented so that it can be experienced from a standing or sitting position
3. A platform with a ramp at the wetland overlook which will accommodate wheelchairs and classroom lessons
4. Several new benches where people can sit down to rest or just enjoy the preserve.
Whether folks are visually-challenged, in a wheelchair, use a walker, have small children in a stroller, or just like to walk side-by-side, the improved trails will benefit everyone coming to visit the preserve. Their increased width and level grade will make them easier for all people to use and enjoy.
Scroll down to see a map of the proposed improvements.
“As a person with vision loss, being able to listen to the nature that surrounds us, touching and smelling the various flowers, feeling the fallen logs, and just sitting and feeling the breezes made visiting Bow in the Clouds so enjoyable.”
According to the Disability Network Southwest Michigan (DNSWM), more than 50,000 or 20% of Kalamazoo County’s residents have a disability.
“We are so excited to make Bow in the Clouds Preserve a place of respite, refuge, contemplation and renewal for everyone,” stated SWMLC Conservation & Stewardship Director, Nate Fuller. “These barrier-free, universal access improvements at Bow in the Clouds will not only create a natural haven for people who are mobility-challenged, they will also provide the foundation for nature-based education programs serving children in Kalamazoo’s Eastside Neighborhood.”
Fuller added that SWMLC will continue the Eastside Arts and Sciences Experiential Learning (EASEL) program with Eastside Youth Strong at Bow in the Clouds, and has been working with the adjacent Spring Valley Center for Exploration to learn how Bow in the Clouds can be integrated into their K-5 Communities in Schools curriculum.