By Michael P. Neufeld
San Bernardino, CA – Monday, January 21, is a “fee-free” day in the San Bernardino National Forest.
National Forest Adventure Passes are not required, as the U.S. Forest Service joins other federal agencies in offering fee-free days on public lands in conjunction with Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
That day marks the first of four fee-free days the Forest Service is offering the public in 2013 — January 21 – Martin Luther King Jr. Day; June 8 – National Get Outdoors Day; September 28 – National Public Lands Day, and November 9-11 – Veterans Day Weekend.
“Your national forests and grasslands are a bargain any day of the year,” according to U. S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, “but even more so on fee-free days. Whether you stay for a few hours or a few days, your public lands are some of the best travel bargains in the nation.”
Traditionally, fees are not charged on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands, and approximately two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. This includes opportunities such as camping and picnicking. The Forest Service operates approximately 17,000 developed recreation sites nationwide. Of those, approximately 6,000 require recreation fees, which are used to provide visitor services, repairs and replacements, and facilities maintenance.
AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS
The participation in fee-free days supports the efforts of President Obama’s AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS initiative that aims to establish a 21st Century conservation and recreation agenda. In discussions across the nation, Americans made it clear that they want reconnect or connect for the first time with the great outdoors – and they want the government’s help.
Forest Service lands, which include 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, offer something for everyone, from the casual hiker to the thrill-seeking recreationist. There also are opportunities and programs for children, from Discover the Forest to becoming a Junior Snow Ranger and more.
Concessionaires who operate campgrounds and other amenities may choose whether to participate in the fee-free days. Contact your favorite campground for more information.