The National Park Service is offering free access to all of our 392 national parks this coming Saturday. The event is to coincide with National Public Lands Day, a community-based conservation awareness effort. The National Park Service says the fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Excluded are reservation, camping, tours, and concession fees as well as fees collected by third parties. The National Public Lands Day is set aside to celebrate outdoors recreation, but the America’s Great Outdoors Campaign says it should also remind Americans of the importance of our protected areas. “While families are enjoying this special weekend, we must also remember that national parks need to be protected for future generations,” stated a release from the America’s Great Outdoors Campaign, which is asking people to, “tell President Obama what they want to see on his conservation agenda by sending a comment to the White House and Department of Interior.” Members of the Obama Cabinet will begin drafting a 21st Century strategy to conserve our shared outdoor spaces. Their recommendations will be presented to the President in a November 15 report that reflects their findings.” For most of us who do not live near a national park, it takes some planning and resources to get to them. They are amazing eco systems to visit, It’s a shame that we have not created additional national parks that are closer to urban centers, that would provide an easier access for the majority of people. Perhaps in the future government could seek to buy back land around urban settings and allow these lands to reclaim their naturalness again. One little caveat regarding our free day in the parks- more than two-thirds of the country’s national parks are free year-around. Keep that in mind when you plan your next family vacation.
Photo: Mammoth Springs, Yellowstone National Park Photo Credit: John Vlahakis