National parks to become free for wounded veterans

West

Dusk falls over Half Dome (C L) and Nevada Fall (C R) as a visitor walks at Glacier Point in the Yosemite National Park, California on July 07, 2020. – After closing for 2½ months because of the coronavirus pandemic, the wildlife is taking over of areas used by the public. The park is open with limited services and facilities to those with day-use reservations, reservations for in-park lodging or camping, and wilderness or Half Dome permits. (Photo by Apu GOMES / AFP) (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) — A proposal from lawmakers in New England and California to give free access to national parks to wounded veterans is poised to become law.

The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives after previously passing the U.S. Senate. Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Democratic California Rep. Raul Ruiz proposed the law.

The bill is designed to change the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to make veterans with a service-connected disability eligible for a free lifetime pass to U.S. national parks, the lawmakers said. Collins said the change “will ensure that disabled veterans can continue to access our country’s national treasures for outdoor recreation, which can help heal both the visible and invisible wounds of war.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior also recently accepted a proposal from Maine lawmakers Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, and Sen. Angus King, an independent, to make admission to national parks free for Gold Star families.

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