Free Admission to U.S. Forest Sites Honors Vets

US Forest Service

US Forest Service

For the fourth time this year, the U.S. Forest Service is waiving fees at most of its day-use recreation sites.

The fee waivers for the weekend of November 9-11, 2013 are in honor of the Veterans Day holiday weekend, in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

Day-use fees will be waived at all standard amenity fee sites operated by the U.S. Forest Service, including those on the Chattahoochee and Oconee National Forests. Concessionaire operated day-use sites may be included in the waiver if the permit holder wishes to participate.

"We wholeheartedly salute the men and women who represent the nearly 22 million American veterans who have served their country in the military," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "As we do throughout the year, we encourage veterans and their families to take advantage of their national forests and grasslands to enjoy all the benefits the outdoors provide."

The health benefits visitors receive from visiting national forests and grasslands are found when 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 also 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.

The fee waiver days support the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, which encourages all Americans to connect with the outdoors, and First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Outside," which encourages children to get out and get active to be healthy.

Traditionally, fees are not charged 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. Many recreation opportunities such as camping, sightseeing and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the year at no cost.

The Forest Service also honors active duty military members year-round with the free Interagency Annual Military Pass honored at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees.

In Georgia, forest visitors may check with their local Forest Service office to find out in advance whether waivers will exist at specific sites.

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide the finest outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources in Georgia. Featuring nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties, hundreds of miles of clear-running streams and rivers, approximately 850 miles of recreation trails, and dozens of campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation activity opportunities, these lands are rich in natural scenery, history and culture.

The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests is part of the Southern Region, with the Forest Supervisor's office in Gainesville, Georgia, managing four District units in Blairsville (Blue Ridge District), Lakemont (Chattooga River District), Chatsworth (Conasauga District), and Eatonton (Oconee District).


Tags: Tourism, Hiking, News, and US Forest Service

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Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.