JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. — Members from all branches of the U.S. military gathered at the Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Va. May 15, as the Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar presented a unique opportunity for service members and their families.
The focus of the secretaryâ€™s announcement was free distribution of the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which allows military members and their families free entrance to public land sites.
â€œIt is important to pay tribute to those who serve our countryâ€ said Salazar. â€œThis is one small way of showing our appreciation.â€
Each service selected one representative to receive the initial park pass during the ceremony.
â€œItâ€™s an honor, Iâ€™m grateful that the Department of the Interior has offered this to active-duty military and their families,â€ said Master Sgt. Jason Simas, the Air Force representative and 633rd Contracting Squadron services and commodities deputy flight chief. â€œItâ€™s a great way to show that they appreciate our service.â€
The pass was made possible through the partnership and collaboration between the Office of the Secretary of Interior, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Parks Services.
Beginning on Armed Forces Day, May 19, the pass allows free entrance to 397 national park sites, 422 U.S. Army Corps of Engineer lake sites and an estimated 2,000 total park sites across the U.S. There is no limit on the number of sites you can see and each pass covers entrance or standard amenities fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle, per-vehicle fee areas.
It covers entrance fees at national parks, national wildlife refuges, as well as standard amenity fees at national forest and national grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation.
While the pass remains valid for one annual year, there are hopes that it will be available in future years to come.
â€œWe have such an appreciation and huge support for our military.â€ Salazar said. â€œI am hopeful for the continuation of this effort.â€