US Forest Service Waives Fees During Veterans Day Weekend
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2013 –The U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at most of its day-use recreation sites over the Veterans Day holiday weekend, Nov. 9-11. The fee waivers – the fourth this year – are offered 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 U.S. Forest Service. Concessionaire operated day-use sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.
"We wholeheartedly salute the men and women who represent the nearly 22 million American veterans who have served their country in the military," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "As we do throughout the year, we encourage veterans and their families to take advantage of their national forests and grasslands to enjoy all the benefits the outdoors provide."
The health benefits visitors receive from visiting national forests and grasslands are found when exploring the 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.
The fee waiver days support the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, which encourages all Americans to connect with the outdoors, and First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Outside," which encourages children to get out and get active to be healthy.
Traditionally, fees are not charged on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands, and approximately two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Many recreation opportunities such as camping, sightseeing and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the year at no cost.
The Forest Service also honors active duty military members year-round with the free Interagency Annual Military Pass honored at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees.
The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, part U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation's clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).