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Trump Administration Grants Gold Star Families and Military Veterans Free Entrance to National Parks, Refuges and Other Public Lands

Press Release
 Photo courtesy: National Park Service; U.S. Department of the Interior.
Photo courtesy: National Park Service; U.S. Department of the Interior. (WLUC)
Published: Oct. 28, 2020 at 9:37 PM CDT
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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Today, on behalf of the Trump Administration and in support of America’s military members and families, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced at the Iowa Gold Star Museum that Gold Star Families and U.S. military veterans will be granted free access to national parks, wildlife refuges and other Federal lands managed by the Department of the Interior starting on Veterans Day (Nov. 11) this year and every day onward.

Entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation sites will be waived for veterans and Gold Star Families. They will have free access to approximately 2,000 public locations spread out across more than 400 million acres of public lands, which host activities to fit any lifestyle, from serene to high octane, including hiking, fishing, paddling, biking, hunting, stargazing and climbing.

Many Department managed lands have direct connections to the American military, such as frontier forts, Cold War sites, battlefields, national cemeteries, and memorials. These special places pay tribute to our veterans and serve as reminders of their courage and sacrifice throughout the history of our nation, from Minuteman National Historic Park where colonists stood in defense of their rights, to Yellowstone National Park, which was protected from vandalism and poaching by the 1st U.S. Cavalry before the National Park Service was established, to Mount Rushmore where modern warriors attend reenlistment ceremonies.

For purposes of this program, a veteran is identified as an individual who has served in the United States Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, and is able to present one of the following forms of identification:

  • Department of Defense Identification Card
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)
  • Veteran ID Card
  • Veterans designation on a state-issued U.S. driver’s license or identification card

Gold Star Families are next of kin of a member of the United States Armed Forces who lost his or her life in a “qualifying situation,” such as a war, an international terrorist attack, or a military operation outside of the United States while serving with the United States Armed Forces.

This Congress, Representative Jared Golden (ME-02) and Representative Rob Wittman (VA-01) with companion legislation from Senators Angus King (I-ME), Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Steve Daines (R-MT), introduced a bipartisan bill to provide Gold Star Families with free access to National Parks and other federally managed public lands. The Department testified on the legislation and in support of access being extended to all veterans and Gold Star Families. Additionally, during the Secretary’s site inspection at Indiana Dunes National Park over the summer, a National Park Service employee suggested to the Secretary that veterans and Gold Star Families should be able to access national parks for free.

The Interagency America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program already includes a free annual pass for active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents. Other free or discounted passes are available for persons with permanent disabilities, fourth grade students, volunteers, and senior citizens age 62 years or older.

The Department also offers free entrance days for everyone throughout the year to mark days of celebration and commemoration including the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., National Public Lands Day, Veterans Day, and the signing of the Great American Outdoors Act.

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