With President Donald Trump’s signing of the Great American Outdoors Act last week, visitors to National Park Service properties and other federal public lands will get an extra fee-free day …
With President Donald Trump’s signing of the Great American Outdoors Act last week, visitors to National Park Service properties and other federal public lands will get an extra fee-free day each year to enjoy the parks.
Going forward, each Aug. 4 will be designated as a fee-free day each year to commemorate the signing of the act, said Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. He called the bill “the most consequential dedicated funding for national parks, wildlife refuges, public recreation facilities and American Indian school infrastructure in U.S. history.”
The Interior Department holds fee-free days throughout the year to encourage visitation and appreciation for America’s public lands. On fee-free days, standard amenity and day-use fees at recreation sites and areas are waived, but other fees — such as overnight camping, cabin rentals, group day use, and use of special areas — remain in effect.
Other fee-free days left this year include Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday; Sept. 26: National Public Lands Day; and Nov. 11: Veterans Day.
The Great American Outdoors Act has been touted as a revenue stream which will “significantly help address the historically underfunded, multi-billion-dollar deferred maintenance backlog at our national parks and public lands,” the department said in a release.
The act allocates $900 million a year to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provides about $9.5 billion over the next five years to help fix a $12 billion maintenance backlog at national parks. It was approved on a 310-107 vote in the House and by a 73-25 vote in the Senate. Though Republicans were less supportive — U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, Rs-Wyo., all voted no — the measure was passed with bipartisan support. It guarantees maximum annual funding for a federal program to acquire and preserve land for public use.
The fund was originally established in 1965 and is responsible for several parks and facilities in Powell, including most recently funds to improve the Powell Golf Course. On March 12, 2019, the Land and Water Conservation Fund was permanently reauthorized, but until the signing Tuesday, the full amount of promised funds have only been allocated once since 1965.
“This is a truly historic commitment to revitalize and restore national parks and other public lands in order to expand recreational opportunities and address long overdue infrastructure and modernization challenges,” said National Park Service Deputy Director David Vela, a former Grand Teton National Park superintendent who’s exercising the authority of the director. “This enormous investment will enhance national parks for present and future generations.”
Across the country, 109 national parks — including Grand Teton and Yellowstone — charge entrance fees while the other 310 do not.