DES MOINES, Iowa — While at Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt signed a Secretary’s Order that waives entrance fees to national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands and waters managed by the Department of the Interior for 5th grade students and their families from now until Aug. 31, 2021.
Secretary Bernhardt’s actions ensure that American 5th grade students who may have been unable to make full use of the Every Kid Outdoors Annual 4th Grade Pass during the 2019-2020 academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic will have free access to national parks and other Federal lands managed by the Department during this academic year.
“The Trump Administration has made expanding public access to America’s national parks and public lands a top priority, especially during this year’s pandemic,” said Secretary Bernhardt. “Programming was limited at times for last year’s fourth graders through the Every Kid Outdoors program, so we’re allowing this year’s 5th graders free access to our public lands throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. We hope these kids and their families take advantage of the incredible physical and mental benefits of getting outside and visiting a park, refuge or campground near them.”
“As the mother of a fifth grader I am particularly excited for families across the country to have more opportunities to explore, play and learn in America’s parks and public lands,” said Margaret Everson, Counselor to the Secretary, exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service Director. “We know many 4th graders were disappointed they were unable to use the pass last year and we are grateful to Secretary Bernhardt for giving them this opportunity”
A majority of Interior-managed lands remained accessible to the public at the onset of the pandemic to serve as places of respite and rejuvenation and allow for social distancing. Services were limited for visitors, in particular impacting the Every Kid Outdoors Program. Nearly all units and locations are currently accessible with many having restored services for the public to enjoy following proper public health and safety guidelines.
Families and students can download their 5th grade passes online at www.nps.gov/kids.