“We come and go, but the land is always here.
And the people who love it and understand it are
the people who own it — for a little while.”
~ Willa Cather
Every once in a while, Government and Nature collide, in a positive way. National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and a whole lot of open spaces are things that are a benefit to all of us, whether we get use them or not.
This year, in celebrate of the National Parks’ 100th birthday, the Every Kid in a Park program was implemented. What this program does is gives all of this nation’s Fourth Graders and their families free access to ALL federal lands and waters for an entire year (September 1, 2016 – August 31, 2016). Eight agencies support Every Kid in a Park: Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Super cool – taxpayer money well spent.
Photo Credits, clockwise from top left: USFWS photo by Larry Jernigan; NPS photo, Lewis and Clark National Historical Park; NPS photo by Will Elder, Golden Gate National Recreation Area; U.S. Army Corps photo by Keith B. Hyde
This program is specifically aimed at getting more people outdoors – the vast majority of us live in an urban or suburban environment and don’t interact with Nature on a regular basis. Much of that time is spent indoors, often in front of a television or other screen. Few would argue it’s been detrimental to our nation’s health. Getting kids and their families is the first step for more people gaining an appreciation of the great outdoors. More appreciation also means more wear and tear, so hopefully Leave No Trace principles will be worked in to the program as it matures.
If you know a Fourth Grade student, tell them to use the Every Kid in a Park web site and get their pass today. Check out all the resources and plan a trip: no matter where you live in the United States, there’s a site within two hours of your home.