Making strides in access

  • Posted: Monday, Jun. 21st, 2021

When Larry Stoller and Meleia Jordan arrive at Dodge on a spring day, nothing stands in the way of a wonderful afternoon observing wildlife—not mud, uneven terrain or washed-out trails.  

That’s because the raised decking of the new Cloverdale Trail lets Larry’s mobility scooter easily make the transition onto the Farm Pond’s boardwalk. Soon enough, he and Meleia are spotting red-winged blackbirds in the cattails and Canada geese tending to their island nests.

Larry Stoller and Meleia Jordan explore the wetland habitat of the Farm Pond from the solid surface of the Cloverdale Trail on Dodge Nature Center's Main Property in West St. Paul in spring 2021.

“Being enabled to view the birds, waterfowl and deer at their level is a rare treat,” Larry says. “The trail is a gift to those of us who otherwise would have difficulty enjoying nature at its best.” 

This improved trail is possible through the generous support of Vicki and Si Ford and their family and friends for the Nourishing Everyone’s Need for Nature Campaign. Vicki is the niece of Olivia Irvine Dodge, the nature center’s founder, and the trail is named in honor of the Irvine family farm in Stillwater.

Dodge board member Natasha Rambacchus, right, and her daughters view wildlife on the Cloverdale Trail in spring 2021.

Accessibility and sustainability are among the top priorities of the $40 million comprehensive campaign. Cloverdale Trail is just the start of efforts to make Dodge more accessible to all who want to visit.

Highland Friendship Club members reach the southern entrance to the new Cloverdale Trail in summer 2021. For recreation and learning, the club regularly explores community sites across the Twin Cities, including Dodge Nature Center.

In May, the Farm parking lot at 1701 Charlton Street was graded, paved and striped to create more than 50 standard and accessible parking spaces. The lot will be easier to maintain in every season and better handle traffic flow for daily use, special events and school bus drop-offs. The driveway is paved to the Farm Education Building to ease access to nature programs, especially for those who need mobility assistance, families with strollers, and people on foot in winter’s snow and ice.

The parking lot 1701 Charlton Street is paved in May 2021 to ease access to nature programs in all four seasons. The Farm lot offers over 50 parking stalls, plus designated accessible spaces. In July 2021, the main parking lot at 365 Marie Ave is paved for daily visitors, school buses, and maintenance vehicles.

This article was originally published in the Nourish Your Need for Nature Newsletter, Summer/Fall 2021.

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