YORKTOWN, Va. â€” As part of the Joining Forces initiative to support our nationâ€™s service members and their families, several U.S. government agencies announced an annual pass to active duty service members and their dependents, granting free access to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges, national forests and other public lands around the nation in the coming years.
Beginning on Armed Forces Day on Saturday, active duty service men and women â€“ Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and activated National Guard and Reserves â€“ can obtain the new military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass. The pass will be accepted at National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps sites that charge entrance or standard amenity fees.
The initiative was announced Tuesday during a ceremony at Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Virginia where Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Director of the National Park Service Jonathan B. Jarvis and Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy distributed the first passes to one member from each of the militaryâ€™s five branches.
Military members and their dependents can pick up a pass at any national park or wildlife refuge that charges an entrance fee or other selected sites. Members must show a current, valid military identification card to obtain their pass. The pass is also available to dependents of active duty personnel.
Tuesdayâ€™s announcement complements the Joining Forces Initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, a national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give service members and families the opportunities and support they have earned.
Where there are entrance fees, the pass covers the owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at recreation sites that charge per vehicle. At sites where per-person entrance fees are charged, it covers the pass owner and three accompanying adults 16 and older. There is no entry fee for children 15 and under.
While the pass is not available to veterans and retirees, many of these individuals are eligible for other discounted passes, such as the Senior Pass, granting lifetime access to U.S. citizens over 62 for $10, and the Access Pass granting free lifetime access for permanently disabled U.S. citizens.
For more information on the pass, go to http://store.usgs.gov/pass/index.html.