Pisgah National Forest (North Carolina).
The Department of the Interior is expected to continue the popular Every Kid in a Park program after broad opposition to ending the program spread to many outdoors and business groups.
Launched in September 2015, the program grants fourth graders and their families free access to national parks and other public lands. Since the program began, millions of fourth graders have downloaded their park pass voucher and visited a national park, many for the first time.
The Outdoors Alliance for Kids delivered over 15,000 comments in support of the program to Secretary Ryan Zinke, including 1,000 handwritten postcards from children. More than 70 member organizations and allies to the Outdoors Alliance for Kids also called on Secretary Zinke to continue the Every Kid in a Park program in a letter sent this week.
Paul Sanford, National Director of Recreation Policy at The Wilderness Society, said:
“We are very glad that the popular Every Kid in a Park program will be extended to provide a new class of 4th graders the opportunity to visit our national parks. The experiences the kids have—many for the first time ever—are priceless, helping expand their horizons and connect them with our nation’s natural and cultural heritage. The Every Kid program would not have been extended without public pressure. When the Administration has proposed actions like massive entrance fee increases that would limit access to our parks, Americans have spoken up, demonstrating that ensuring the opportunity for everyone to access our national parks is an important American value.”
Bipartisan congressional bills that would preserve Every Kid in A Park have been introduced by Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) in the House and by Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) and by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) – H.R. 3186 and S. 1522 respectively.
The Wilderness Society supports Every Kid in A Park. Other supporting organizations include the Girl Scouts of the USA, National Parks Conservation Association, National Park Foundation, The North Face, Outdoor Afro, Outdoors Alliance for Kids, Outdoor Industry Association, REI, Scholastic, Sierra Club, and the YMCA.
The Wilderness Society, founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org