The U.S. Forest Service will offer a fee-free weekend for all visitors Nov. 9-11 in celebration of Veterans Day, the fourth time this year the agency has participated in the fee-free program.
The Forest Service, which does not charge users to enter national forests or grasslands, offers the incentive in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
Day-use fees will be waived at all standard amenity fee sites operated by the Forest Service. Concessionaire operated day-use sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.
“This is a fabulous opportunity to that honors those who have served our country by connecting all Americans to their public lands, especially veterans,” said Diane Rubiaco, acting assistant director for Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources for the agency. “We’re also really focused on including veterans in our workforce, including through the newly formed 21st Century Conservation Service Corps that is focused on connecting youth and veterans to our public lands.”
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps will provide service, training, education and employment opportunity for young Americans and veterans. Their work will help protect, restore and enhance public and Tribal lands and waters.
The corps and the fee-free days support the goals of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative encouraging Americans to be more involved in their public lands and First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Outside!.
The Forest Service fee waiver is an incentive to encourage people who might not take advantage of their public lands to explore our nation’s forests and grasslands. These lands offer a vast array of recreation opportunities and a chance to learn about why our connection to nature is so important. Being outside helps improve physical and mental health, boosts our emotional well-being and helps to instill a concern for nature and understand the conservation ethic.
There is much to explore on a national forest or grassland. The 193 million acres managed by the Forest Service includes more than 150,000 miles of trails, which includes hiking, biking, equestrian and motorized trails, and more than 10,000 developed recreation sites. Visitors also have a wide choice of recreational activities with 57,000 miles of streams, 122 alpine ski areas, 338,000 heritage sites, 9,100 miles of National Scenic Byways, 22 National Recreation Areas, 11 National Scenic Areas, seven National Monuments, one national preserve and one national heritage area.
To honor currently active duty military, the agency accepts the Interagency Annual Military Pass. The free, one-year pass admits the pass holder and accompanying passengers in a private non-commercial vehicle. At per-person fee areas, the pass admits the pass holder and up to three people.