December 13, 2006
Contact: Teresa Edmonson
The federal government has announced a new interagency recreation pass that will benefit visitors to national public lands. The new pass, authorized by the Congress, combines the benefits of existing recreation passes from five federal agencies into one comprehensive pass, the “America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.”
The new pass covers recreation opportunities on public lands managed by four Department of the Interior agencies: the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, and by the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service. Locally, the new pass will apply to entry fee and access fees at Joshua Tree National Park, San Bernardino National Forest, and at Bureau of Land Management recreation sites. The new recreation pass will not apply to fees at California state parks.
Access to many federal public lands remains free. The pass applies to those locations that currently have entrance or standard amenity fees. The new program replaces the Golden Eagle, Golden Age, and the Golden Access Passports as well as the National Parks Pass. Existing passes will remain valid until expired, lost or stolen.
Sales of the new pass will begin in January 2007 and will be available at federal recreation sites that charge entrance and standard amenity fees, through government internet sites, and through select third-party vendors. Joshua Tree National Park will sell the pass at entrance stations and park visitor centers.
The new pass program was created by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which Congress authorized in December 2004. One hundred percent of the revenue derived from passes sold at federal recreation sites will directly benefit the selling agency and no less than 80 percent of the revenue will remain at the site where the pass was sold.
The four different passes in the new interagency program are:
1) an interagency pass costing $80 for visitors to multiple federal sites: the pass offers unlimited coverage of entrance and standard amenity recreation fees for a specific period of time, typically a year, beginning from the date of first use.
2) a $10 lifetime senior pass for U.S. citizens 62 or over;
3) a free lifetime access pass for citizens with permanent disabilities, and
4) a free annual volunteer pass for volunteers acquiring 500 hours of service on a cumulative basis.
The new interagency pass is good at vehicle-based entry sites for all occupants in a single, non-commercial vehicle. At walk-up sites, the pass is good for the pass holder and three adults (total of four adults). There is no charge for children under 16. The recreation pass will not apply to camping fees at national parks, however new passes for senior citizens and for people with permanent disabilities will confer a 50% discount on camping and other standard amenity fees at Joshua Tree National Park, other National Park Service units, and on properties managed by the other participating agencies.
Some specific examples of projects funded with fee revenues at Joshua Tree National Park include:
> construction of new solar-powered amphitheaters at Cottonwood, Indian Cove, and Jumbo Rocks campgrounds,
> design and production of new wayside exhibits for the park,
> exterior renovation of the Oasis Visitor Center in Twentynine Palms,
> upgrade of emergency radio equipment,
> design and installation of gates to improve safety at abandoned mines throughout the park
> construction of new restrooms at the Cottonwood Visitor Center
> installation of vault toilets throughout the park,
> reconstruction of many park trails such as the Barker Dam and Hidden Valley nature trails,
> rehabilitation of facilities at park campgrounds and picnic areas,
> replacement of museum exhibits at the Oasis Visitor Center.
The new passes, which feature award-winning landscape photographs of federal lands, are part of a new “Share the Experience” Annual Federal Lands Photo Contest. The contest, sponsored by the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation, and Casio, encourages visitors to submit photos of federal lands for a chance to have their image chosen for the next year’s annual pass.
The passes will be durable, plasticized, and designed with technology that will enable future improvements to the program.
For further information about the new federal recreation passes and the Joshua Tree National Park fee program, please contact park fee program supervisor Teresa Edmonson at 760-367-5549.