Fee waivers in national forests begin this weekend

The U.S. Forest Service has announced that they will waive fees at all national forests for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend from January 14-16. This is the first time the Forest Service will waive fees in 2012. They will also do this on June 9 for Get Outdoors Day, September 29 for National Public Lands Day and November 10-12 for Veterans Day weekend.Ninety-eight percent of the national forest land is already free to the public. Approximately 18,000 recreation sites can be used for free. These sites include picnic sites, campsites, beach and lake areas, trails, and cabins.Kathy Jo Pollock, Public Affairs official for the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, says the areas that normally charge will be free for the weekend, except for camping fees. The waivers will be for day use, for having a picnic, hiking fees or other charges at national forests.”These fee waiver days, or the days they do not have to pay,” Pollock says, “support the goals that President (Barack) Obama has for America’s Great Outdoor Initiative and the First Lady (Michelle Obama has) of Let’s Move Outside to get more people outside and more active on their public lands.”The fees that are charged usually go back into the campground area to improve picnic areas, to building bathroom facilities and to improve trails says Pollock. The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for a lot of land throughout the country. It manages 193 million acres of public land and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

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