Forest Service to waive fees on MLK Day

Staff reportJanuary 5, 2014 

Like other federal agencies, the U.S. Forest Service will waive fees at most of its day-use recreation sites on Jan. 20, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

That day is the first of 10 fee-waiver days, including two weekends, offered by the agency during 2014.

The other scheduled fee-free days to be observed by the Forest Service are Presidents Day weekend Feb. 15-17; National Get Outdoors Day on June 14; National Public Lands Day on Sept. 27; and Veterans Day weekend from Nov. 8-11.

“Our public lands are open to everyone, and we hope these free days offer an incentive to all people to visit any of the 193 million acres of land held in trust for their enjoyment and use,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said in a news release.

No fees are charged at any time 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. Check with a local national forest office, or go online to recreation.gov to see if your destination charges a fee.

Among national forest destinations in this area charging a fee is Johnston Ridge Observatory at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. It is closed, however, for the winter.

These Get Outdoors Days help to raise awareness that nature encourages healthy, active outdoor fun, according to the news release.

In addition to waiving fees, various Forest Service units participate in a variety of public events on agency lands and in nearby cities and towns. Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort in support of public lands. Agency units plan their own events, which range from educational programs to trash pickup to building trails.

Health benefits that visitors receive from being on national forests and grasslands can be found while exploring the more than 150,000 miles of trails, which includes hiking, biking, equestrian and motorized trails, and more than 10,000 developed recreation sites.

Visitors have a wide choice of recreational activities with 57,000 miles of streams, 122 alpine ski areas, 338,000 heritage sites, 9,100 miles of national scenic byways, 22 national recreation areas, 11 national scenic areas, seven national monuments, one national preserve and one national heritage area.

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