National Parks Service Expands Program to Allow 4th and 5th Graders to Enter Parks for Free

by Jennifer Shea
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America’s national parks are now free to visit for both 4th and 5th-grade students. And beginning on Veterans Day, veterans and Gold Star families will also have access to public lands for free.

National Parks Free to Kids and Veterans

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced the move in a tweet.

He also issued a statement on the decision to include veterans.

“With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting veterans and Gold Star families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veterans Day and every single day thereafter,” Bernhardt said in the statement, according to USA Today.

Officials decided to open the waiver to 5th graders as well as 4th graders after many families missed out on using their pass when national parks closed their gates last spring due to the pandemic.

“We have heard from a lot of disappointed families and disappointed 5th graders,” Margaret Everson told USA Today. Everson is counselor to the Secretary of the Interior, head of the National Park Service and the mother of a 5th grader.

Temporary Passes

The passes are available on the National Park Service website. Families can print them out and show them at park entrances. The passes are also good at wildlife refuges and other areas managed by the Department of the Interior.

KCRG reported that the change to include 5th graders is temporary, and only applies to those 5th graders affected by last spring’s national park closures. Their waiver runs through August 31, 2021.

“We hope these kids and their families take advantage of the incredible physical and mental benefits of getting outside and visiting a park, refuge or campground near them,” Bernhardt said in a statement.

Bernhardt made the announcement from Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge in Des Moines, Iowa.

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