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Cantwell, Gordon Smith Push for Veterans National Parks Pass

Location: Washington, DC

Cantwell, Gordon Smith Push for Veterans National Parks Pass

Legislation would create discounted parks and forest pass for men and women who served in Armed Forces

Monday, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) urged their colleagues to join them in backing legislation to set up a new, discounted National Parks pass for America's veterans. Under the proposal, veterans could purchase a $10 annual pass to all national parks, forests, monuments, and other federal lands that charge an entrance fee. The normal fee for such a pass is $80.

"The men and women who served in our Armed Forces and sacrificed for our country deserve broad access to the land they defended so courageously," said Cantwell. "We owe our veterans a tremendous debt of gratitude. More affordable access to America's many national parks, forests, battlefields, and historic sites is a fitting honor."

Monday, Cantwell and Smith sent a letter to their Senate colleagues asking them to support the plan, which has the backing of the American Legion, AMVETS, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Currently, anyone may purchase an annual America the Beautiful lands pass for $80, granting the card-holder access to national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and many other public lands. Senior citizens may purchase a lifetime Senior Pass for $10. The Smith-Cantwell legislation, introduced in February, would create a new $10 annual Veterans Eagle Parks Pass for any veteran who shows their separation papers (DD-214 papers) at the time of purchase.

Federal recreation passes grant access to the card holder as well as their children and up to three adults traveling with them in a non-commercial vehicle. In Washington state, Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and the Whitman Mission National Historic Site all charge admissions fees. Northwest National Forests also charge a usage fee, as do many of the most popular parks and recreation areas elsewhere in the country. All of these areas are free to pass holders.

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