WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Fifth grade students now have free admission to National Parks in the United States.

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt officially signed a Secretary’s Order on October 28 that will waive entrance fees to national parks. This order will allow fifth grade students to have free admission to all United States national parks, wildlife refuges and public lands and waters.

The order is effective immediately, and will continue for these students and their families through August 31, 2020.

The order signed on October 28 is a continuation of an opportunity led by the Department of the Interior since 2015 through the Every Kid Outdoor Program.

“Our national parks and public lands are unparalleled for their beauty and ability to help us heal from trauma,” said Sierra Club Outdoors for All Campaign Director Jackie Ostfeld. “Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic, closed and crowded facilities, and stay-at-home orders stopped countless families from experiencing these treasured places this year. Extending the EKO pass means that our kids and families will be able to find respite and health on our public lands and waters, right when they need it most.”

According to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, who advocated for the program to pass into the 2020-2021 school year, “the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a hurdle for students and families to accessing public lands, waters.”

“Our North Country students and families value the experience of visiting public lands and learning about our nation’s rich history in outdoor settings,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “I am proud to have led this effort in the House and to have worked directly with Secretary Bernhardt and the Trump Administration to quickly secure this result so students and families do not miss out on the opportunity to foster a lifelong connection with America’s natural treasures.

On October 20, Congresswoman Stefanik led a bipartisan letter to the National Park Service requesting the extension of Every Kid Outdoors.

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