Upcoming Veterans Day, November 11, marks the fourth time this year that the U.S. Forest Service is offering national fee waivers on recreation sites.
"The Forest Service is working to ensure as many visitors as possible have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and take advantage of the many recreational activities national forests have to offer," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "By waiving fees, everyone will have the opportunity to enjoy the wonder and rejuvenation of recreation on national forests and grasslands."
These fee waivers are offered in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. Aside from Veterans Day, there have been three other dates earlier this year when fees have been waived: National Trails Day - June 5-6; Back-to-School Season - Aug. 14-15; and National Public Lands Day - Sept. 25, 2010. Day use fees will be waived at all standard amenity fee sites operated by the Forest Service and concessionaire operated day-use sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.
The Fee Waiver days support the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors Conference and First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative by actively supporting and promoting programs, projects and initiatives that encourage the use of the outdoors by the public. The waiver will allow people to explore the nation's forests and grasslands, which offer a wide range of recreation and educational benefits such as improved physical and mental health, emotional well being, a concern for nature, and a conservation ethic.
The updated National Visitor Use Monitoring Report reveals that recreation activities on national forests and grasslands have helped to sustain an estimated 223,000 jobs in rural areas and contributed approximately $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
Traditionally, fees are not charged on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands and over two-thirds of developed recreation sites on National Forest System lands can be used for free. Many recreation opportunities such as camping, sightseeing and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the year at no cost.
The Forest Service operates approximately 17,000 recreation sites nationwide. Of those, approximately 6,000 require a fee, generally used to help offset the costs of visitor services, repairs and replacements, and facilities maintenance.