Date: Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020
DES MOINES, Iowa — While at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed a Secretary’s Order that waives entrance fees to national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands and waters managed by the Department of the Interior for 5th grade students and their families from now until Aug. 31, 2021.
Secretary Bernhardt’s actions ensure that American 5th grade students who may have been unable to make full use of the Every Kid Outdoors Annual 4th Grade Pass during the 2019-2020 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have free access to national parks and other Federal lands managed by the Department during this academic year.
“The Trump Administration has made expanding public access to America's national parks and public lands a top priority, especially during this year’s pandemic,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Programming was limited at times for last year’s fourth graders through the Every Kid Outdoors program, so we’re allowing this year’s 5th graders free access to our public lands throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. We hope these kids and their families take advantage of the incredible physical and mental benefits of getting outside and visiting a park, refuge or campground near them.”
A majority of Interior-managed lands remained accessible to the public at the onset of the pandemic to serve as places of respite and rejuvenation and allow for social distancing. Services were limited for visitors, in particular impacting the Every Kid Outdoors Program. Nearly all units and locations are currently accessible with many having restored services for the public to enjoy following proper public health and safety guidelines.
Families and students can download their 5th grade passes online.
Through the Every Kid Outdoors Program for fourth grade students, entrance fees for the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and standard amenity recreation fees for the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Reclamation are waived, providing limitless opportunities to explore, learn, and recreate in spectacular settings. The pass does not cover expanded amenity fees such as camping or boat rides.
The program focuses on children around 10 years of age based on research that indicates children ages 9–11 are at a unique developmental stage in their learning where they begin to understand how the world around them works in more concrete ways, and they are more receptive to engaging with nature and the environment. By focusing on this age group year after year, the program aims to ensure every child in the United States has the opportunity to visit their Federal lands and waters by the age of 11 years, hopefully establishing lifelong bonds to our country’s natural and cultural heritage.
More information is available online at Every Kid Outdoors.