Active-duty military personnel and their dependents will soon be able to enter every national park for free as part of an effort to thank service members and their families for the sacrifices they make, the Interior Department announced Tuesday.
An annual pass will be made available to members of the military free of charge beginning Saturday, which is Armed Forces Day. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass ordinarily costs $80. It provides access to more than 2,000 national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands.
The initiative is being marked with a Tuesday ceremony at Colonial National Historical Park in Yorktown, Va., the site of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War. The park is nestled in a region of Virginia that plays host to all five branches of the military, including the world’s largest naval base.
“I think when one goes into Virginia and you see all the sites, the Yorktown battlefield and the whole history of the country, it’s important that those who have fought in the tradition of making sure the nation’s democracy and freedom are protected also have access to these wonderful sites there,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in a conference call with reporters in advance of the announcement.