Saratoga, NY – Congresswoman Stefanik today announced that following her advocacy, the Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed a Secretary’s Order that waves entrance fees to national parks, wildlife refuges, and other public lands and waters for 5th grade students and their families from now until August 31, 2021.

“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. I continue to support efforts to increase access to and funding for public lands, which I have advocated for each year that I have been in Congress. I encourage North Country families to take advantage of the Every Kid Outdoors Program and get out to visit a park or campground.”

Since 2015, the Department of Interior has offered fourth graders and their family’s free entrance to all federally managed public land through the Every Kid Outdoors Program. The COVID-19 pandemic has presented a hurdle for students and families to accessing public lands, waters, and historic sites. Just eight days ago, Congresswoman Stefanik led a bipartisan letter to the National Park Service requesting that they extend the 2019-2020 Every Kid Outdoors pass into the 2020-2021 school year so that 5th grade students and their families can continue to explore the rich natural and cultural history on display in our public lands. Following her request, the Department of the Interior issued an order waiving entrance fees for 5th grade students and families in order to provide them with the opportunity to visit these areas.

“Our national parks and public lands are unparalleled for their beauty and ability to help us heal from trauma,” said Jackie Ostfeld, director of Sierra Club’s Outdoors for All campaign and founder of the Outdoors Alliance for Kids. “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.”

Learn more about the Every Kid Outdoors Program here.