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National parks thank America's military with free annual pass

The Aberdeen Times of Aberdeen, Idaho

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The National Parks are showing their appreciation for those who serve in the U.S. military. On May 19, Armed Forces Day, the National Park Service began issuing an annual pass offering free entrance to all 397 national parks for active duty military members and their dependents.

"We all owe a debt to those who sacrifice so much to protect our country," said Craters of the Moon National Monument Superintendent Dan Buckley. "We are proud to recognize these brave men and women and hope that a visit to this or any national park will offer an opportunity to unwind, relax, rejuvenate, and just have fun with their families."

Active duty members of the U.S. military and their dependents can pick up their pass at the Craters of the Moon National Monument during entrance station hours. Call ahead to ensure that the entrance station is staffed: 208-527-1335. The pass may also be picked up at other national parks that charge an entrance fee. Find a list of national parks with entrance fees at

Eligible individuals must be prepared to show a current, valid military identification card to obtain their pass. More information is available at www.npsgov/findapark/passes.htm.

Other national parks in southern Idaho including Craters of the Moon National Preserve, City of Rocks National Reserve, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument and Minidoka National Historic Site do not charge an entrance fee; the closest park to pick up a pass is Craters of the Moon National Monument.

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 wherever fees are charged.

"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.

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Original Publication Date: May 23, 2012

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