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September 27, 2013

Chiricahua National Monument offers free entry on National Public Lands Day

The Chiricahua Mountains are a crossroads for plants and animals from four ecosystems; the Rocky Mountains to the north, Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains to the south, the Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.

Chiricahua National Monument will waive entrance fees on Saturday in recognition of National Public Lands Day.

National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis has announced that all 401 national park sites will offer free entry on this day in an effort to encourage individuals, families and communities to explore and appreciate America’s great outdoors. National Public Lands Day is also a time for individuals to consider volunteering their time and energy through beneficial projects.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of National Public Lands Day, the purpose of which is to increase awareness of the value of all public lands, to foster shared stewardship of America’s national resources, and to encourage people to volunteer their time. Many people will lend a hand to help the land and spend part of National Public Lands Day volunteering on work projects across the country. More than 180,000 people are expected to plant trees, clean watersheds, remove invasive plants, replace signs, and otherwise beautify over 2,200 public sites. Visit www.publiclandsday.org for more information.

National Public Lands Day is the only time that entrance fees are systematically waived on ALL public lands across America. Fees will be waived at national park units, as well as other land management sites including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Forest Service areas. In addition to National Public Lands Day, there is one remaining fee-free event this year; during Veterans Day weekend, November 9-11, all NPS sites will once again waive entrance fees.

A “Wonderland of Rocks” is waiting for you to explore at Chiricahua National Monument. The 8-mile paved scenic drive and 17-miles of day-use hiking trails provide opportunities to discover the beauty, natural sounds and inhabitants of this 11,985 acre site.

Western National Parks Association, a non-profit park partner that operates the store in the park visitor center at Chiricahua NM – as well as at 65 other NPS sites – will help celebrate by offering a 15 percent discount on all items on Saturday. WNPA is also conducting a membership drive through the end of September. Membership and purchases in park visitor centers directly support education and interpretation at the parks. Folks can learn more about their important work at www.wnpa.org.

The Saturday fee waiver applies to entrance fees only and does not include fees for camping. Chiricahua NM includes the 25-site Bonita Canyon Campground. Campsites are $12/night and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Portions of the campground have been closed this summer due to the risk of monsoon flooding, but with drying conditions in the forecast, park managers expect the campground to be fully open by National Public Lands Day.

For more information about planning a trip to the park, visit www.nps.gov/chir or call the visitor center staff at 520-824-3560, ext. 0. For more information on year-round fee-free opportunities in NPS units around the country, visit www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm.




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