The free benefit will take effect on Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2020, and will continue indefinitely, providing veterans and Gold Star Families with unfettered access to the public land and waters for which they fought.
“This country is deeply indebted to the dedicated men and women who have served in the military, and to the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation,” said Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. “We are pleased to offer this free access opportunity as a way to honor them and to encourage them to explore our Nation’s big backyard.”
While most national forest and grasslands are already free to access, the Forest Service will now offer a fee waiver granting veterans and Gold Star families free access to all Forest Service operated day-use standard amenity recreation fee sites such as trailheads, picnic sites, visitor centers and most other day-use recreation sites.
To access the benefit, veterans can present any of several government issued documents verifying veteran status. Gold Star families can download and print a voucher to show a ranger or place on the vehicle dashboard at unstaffed sites.
For more information on the free access program for U.S. military veterans and Gold Star families please visit the Forest Service website.
The Forest Service manages 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses over 20 million acres across California, and assists State and Private forest landowners in California, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands.
National forests supply 50 percent of the water in California and form the watershed of most major aqueducts and more than 2,400 reservoirs throughout the state.
For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R5.