Bonsai- Shaping the Industry
- Bonsai Design’s President and Founder is a member of the ACCT Canopy / Zip Line Tour Committee, which works with the ACCT to develop and maintain Canopy Tour standards and provide support on Canopy Tour issues.
- Bonsai Design is an ACCT Professional Vendor Member (PVM), the result of a lengthy peer review process directed at ensuring that the vendor complies with the ACCT Standards. We are recognized as a PVM in two of our departments: Installation, and Training and Operations.
- With over twenty years of experience, we are familiar with the governing standards that regulate the Aerial Adventure Course industry. Bonsai Design meets applicable standards from design to operations. Please feel free to contact us regarding any questions.
The Aerial Adventure Course industry has been governed for over fifteen years by international standards developed by the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT). The first edition of the ACCT Standards was issued in 1994, and contained only installation standards. The second edition was released in 1998, and also included technical standards for Challenge Course operations. The most recent edition, the 8th, released in 2012, includes standards for installation and equipment, inspections, operations, practitioner certification, and qualifications for the Challenge Course Professional. The ACCT has been approved as an ANSI Accredited Standards Developer.
The domestic Aerial Adventure Course industry is comprised of perhaps 100 or so vendor organizations that design to ACCT standards for installation, inspection, and operation. Additionally, the Aerial Adventure Course industry is comprised of tens of thousands of operational organizations, most of which follow operations standards of the ACCT.
Hundreds of Aerial Adventure Course installations have occurred in many states in the US without having undergone a building permit process, though there are many which have. This is mainly due to the fact that the International Building Code is not formulated directly to specifically address the lifeline structures and aspects of these programs. In cases where building permits are reviewed, the focus is primarily placed on the structural aspects of the program. This type of review does not address the primary risk areas of the programs, which deal with operations and associated life support systems. Any Building Department looking to undertake the review of a zip line or Aerial Adventure Course installation should work closely with a seasoned industry professional – most often the vendor performing the installation – and should always refer to the ACCT installation and operations standards to guide the review process.
In recent years, standards written by the ASTM (formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials) F24 Committee, which addresses amusement rides and devices, have been applied to particular aspects of the Aerial Adventure Course industry. The ASTM F24 Committee recently approved the first version of the Aerial Adventure Course Standard, F2959, which includes zip lines, ropes courses, challenge courses, aerial trekking courses, and canopy tours. This standard applies criteria for the design, manufacture, installation, operation, maintenance, auditing, and major modifications to aerial adventure courses following its effective date of publication.
Legislation written in the ‘Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act of 2011’ has also impacted the Aerial Adventure Course industry. The act was written “to clarify the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture to permit appropriate additional seasonal or year-round recreational activities and facilities on National Forest System land subject to ski area permits issued by the Secretary of Agriculture…”. Excitingly, this opened up the doors for ski areas to obtain permits for building zip lines. Amusement parks, however, are not permissible. This act, along with the ASTM F24, has created an important conversation in the industry as to the where the line is drawn between amusement rides and various aspects of the Aerial Adventure Course industry. The essential factor in answering the question lies in defining a program’s fundamental focus. If the program’s goals are ultimately recreational, compliance with ASTM Standards would be more applicable. If the program’s goals are ultimately educational, compliance with the ACCT Standards would be more applicable.