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Contact: Aaron Ochoa, Park Ranger, 360-816-6233
VANCOUVER, WA - To show our appreciation for those who serve in the U.S. Military, on May 19 - Armed Forces Day - the National Park Service will begin issuing an annual pass offering free entrance to all 397 national parks for active duty military members and their dependents.
"The National Park Service has a strong connection with the military," stated Superintendent Tracy Fortmann. "Many military personnel have chosen a second career in the National Park Service, and the Service is the steward safeguarding many of our nation's most significant military sites-- historic forts, battlefields, batteries, missile sites, and cemeteries. We are truly honored to serve as the storytellers and historians to keep these places and histories alive for Americans today and tomorrow."
Active duty members of the U.S. Military and their dependents can pick up their pass at the reconstructed Hudson Bay Company Fort, Monday through Saturday (9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday, 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm).They must show a current, valid military identification card to obtain their pass. More information is available at www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm.
This military version of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass also permits free entrance to sites managed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the U.S. Forest Service. The pass is also available at these locations.
"Through the years, military members, especially those far from home in times of conflict, have found inspiration in America's patriotic icons and majestic landscapes, places like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon that are cared for by the National Park Service and symbolize the nation that their sacrifices protect," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "This new pass is a way to thank military members and their families for their service and their sacrifices."
National parks and the military have strong ties going back to the establishment of Yellowstone as the world's first national park in 1872. The U.S. Cavalry watched over America's national parks and did double duty, serving as the first park rangers until the National Park Service was created 44 years later. During World War II, many parks were set aside for the training and care of military personnel. Today, dozens of national parks commemorate military battles and achievements.
"The connection between the military and national parks is especially evident here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site," explained Greg Shine, Chief Ranger and Historian. "One of the reasons that Congress established this national park was to preserve and interpret the establishment of the U.S. Army's Vancouver Barracks, and the military theme remains an important one today -- especially as we envision the future of East and South Vancouver Barracks through a multi-year public master planning process."
"The Military Pass enables soldiers who dedicate, sacrifice and protect our county an opportunity gain a deeper connection those lands," said Fortmann. "Now, our soldiers and their dependents can enjoy some of the very things -- national parks and other federal lands -- they have given up so much to protect."