Deborah Tuck developed a meaningful relationship with nature at a young age. One of her special memories as a youngster was going to Lake Superior with her father.
GCNP superintendent Joe Alston presents GCNP Foundation president Deborah Tuck with the National Accessibility Leadership Award. (Photo by Michael Quinn/NPS)
Since arriving in northern Arizona from the nation’s capital, Tuck has continued to serve in the best interests of the natural environment. Through her fund-raising efforts, Grand Canyon National Park has been able to improve its trail system with the construction of the Greenway.
"All of you who have been on those trails know they are a great addition to the park," GCNP superintendent Joe Alston said last week in a ceremony honoring Grand Canyon National Park Foundation and Tuck. "It’s a big thing to go out and raise money. It’s another to make sure these projects survive the tests of time."
On behalf of the Department of the Interior and National Park Service, Alston presented the foundation and Tuck the National Accessibility Leadership Award for their "outstanding leadership in ensuring high accessibility standards for the Grand Canyon National Park Greenway project."
"This award acknowledges the efforts of Deborah Tuck, president of the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation, and her ability to interest private donors like the Pulliam Charitable Trust, the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the Haiman Foundation and American Airlines, as well as many individual contributors," Alston said.
Alston presented the honor during a Dec. 10 meeting of the park’s managers at the Community Building.
"We congratulate the foundation and its many partners," Alston said. "This unique effort is an extraordinary example of what public-private partnerships can do to help the Park Service expand the levels of opportunity for all visitors. We encourage them to continue their efforts in equal access for everyone."
While accepting the award, Tuck called her work with the foundation and the park as the "best of relationships" and said taking care of national parks is "part of being an American and also to take care of the places we love."
Tuck credited NPS employees such as Alston, Mallory Smith and Brad Traver as playing significant roles in the project’s success. She also said former deputy superintendent J.T. Reynolds, who is now superintendent at Death Valley National Park, played an instrumental role in securing grant money.
When completed the Greenway could provide as many as 73 miles of new hiking and biking trails on the South and North rims of the park, and will be the longest wheelchair accessible trail in the National Park System.
Designed to improve visitor experience by offering a wider range of transit options into and around the park, the Greenway provides greater opportunities for visitors on foot, by bicycle or in a wheelchair to connect with the Canyon.
Many of the park’s visitor facilities are historic and were built before accessibility standards were developed. The Grand Canyon Greenway Development Plan was completed in 1997 by the Grand Canyon National Park Foundation, the National Park Service, and the Greenway Collaborative — a volunteer group of Greenway planners and designers specially formed to assist with this project.
Designed for full accessibility, the trails will have an average width of 12 feet and be surfaced and graded to offer ease of movement for individuals using wheelchairs. The first four miles, completed in 2002, have a maximum slope of 5 percent and rest areas every 30 feet in places where the slope is at or near 5 percent.
The earliest sections of the Greenway are the Grand Canyon Village Trail segments from Yavapai Point to Pipe Creek Vista on Desert View Drive and from Canyon View Information Plaza to Grand Canyon Village.
The NPS initiated the National Accessibility Awards in the fall of 1998 to recognize outstanding accomplishments that result in greater opportunities with disabilities within the NPS.
The Grand Canyon National Park Foundation was among six national winners that were selected by a national review panel. The national award winners will receive a Director’s Award plaque and a letter from the director outlining their accomplishments.