Free Weekends 2009
Contact: Mark Davis, (843) 883-3123 x 25
(Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina) — Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has announced that the National Park Service will offer three fee-free weekends this summer to encourage Americans seeking affordable vacations to visit these national treasures. There are 391 national parks located across the country in 49 states. In the Charleston area, the entrance fee to Fort Moultrie will be waived on these three weekends.
“During these tough economic times, our national parks provide opportunities for affordable vacations for families,” Salazar said at a press conference at Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “I encourage everyone to visit one of our nation’s crown jewels this summer and especially to take advantage of the three free-admission weekends.”
“National Parks also serve as powerful economic engines for local communities and we hope that promoting visitation will give a small shot in the arm to businesses in the area,” he said.
The 147 National Park Service sites across the country that charge fees for entry will waive these entrance fees during the weekends of June 20-21, July 18-19, and August 15-16, 2009, Salazar said.
Meanwhile, many park partners including tour operators, hotels, restaurants, gift shops, and other vendors will offer additional discounts and special promotions on those dates. More information on the fees and discounts can be found at http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm .
Most Americans live less than a day’s drive from a park, the Secretary noted. Nationwide, parks last year attracted more than 275 million recreation visits. Spending by non-local visitor provided $10.6 billion for local economies, supporting more than 213,000 jobs, not counting National Park Service jobs.
“Tourism income helps America’s economic recovery,” Salazar said. “National park sites in the Great Lakes states, for example, attract 8 million recreation visits a year that bring $211 million into the local economies. Spending by visitors from out of the area supports 4,400 local jobs. So these areas need to maintain and expand this vital tourism.”
The entrance fees being waived at the 147 sites that usually charge for admission range from $3 to $25. The 244 other parks do not charge entrance fees, including Charles Pinckney National Historic Site in Mount Pleasant. The waiver does not include other fees collected in advance or by contractors—such as fees charged for camping, reservations, tours and use of concessions. As the ferry to Fort Sumter is owned and operated by a contracted concessioner, the normal ferry charge will apply. Private boaters can visit Fort Sumter for free whenever the fort is open.
The year 2009 marks the bicentennial (200th) anniversary of the current Fort Moultrie, which is located at 1214 Middle Street on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. This brick fort, the third to be built at this site, opened December 19, 1809 and remained in military service until 1947. The first Fort Moultrie, constructed of palmetto logs and sand, was the site of the “battle of Sullivan’s Island,” June 28, 1776. Since 1960, the fort has been administered as part of Fort Sumter National Monument.
The National Park Service website provides information to help the public plan their park adventures at www.nps.gov. For additional information on Fort Sumter National Monument and Fort Moultrie, visit www.nps.gov/fosu and for Charles Pinckney National Historic Site visit www.nps.gov/chpi.