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U.S. Forest Service waives fees during Veterans Day weekend - Perry County Tribune: Community

U.S. Forest Service waives fees during Veterans Day weekend

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Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 2:05 pm

The Wayne National Forest in Ohio is waiving its trail fees over the Veterans Day holiday weekend, Nov. 9-11. The fee waivers – the fourth this year – are offered in cooperation with other federal agencies under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

"We wholeheartedly salute the men and women who represent the nearly 22 million American veterans who have served their country in the military," said U.S. Forest Service Eastern Regional Forester Kathleen Atkinson. "As we do throughout the year, we encourage veterans and their families to take advantage of their national forests and grasslands to enjoy all the benefits the outdoors provide."

The Wayne National Forest has over 360 miles of multiple-use trails, which include horse, all-terrain vehicle (ATV), off-highway motorcycle (OHM), mountain bike, and hiking trails that are open from April 15 through December 15. Hiking is allowed on all trails year-round.

The Forest Service also honors active duty military members year-round with the free Interagency Annual Military Pass honored at all Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service sites charging entrance or standard amenity fees.

The health benefits visitors receive from visiting national forests and grasslands are gained while exploring more than 150,000 miles of trails (including hiking, biking, equestrian and motorized trails) and more than 10,000 developed recreation sites. Visitors also have a wide choice of recreational activities available across the nation, with 57,000 miles of streams, 122 alpine ski areas, 338,000 heritage sites, 9,100 miles of national scenic byways, 22 national recreation areas, 11 national scenic areas, seven national monuments, one national preserve, and one national heritage area, all waiting to be explored.

Fee waiver days support the goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative, which encourages all Americans to connect with the outdoors, and first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move Outside," which urges children to get outside and be active for good health.

Traditionally, fees are not charged on 98 percent of national forests and grasslands, and approximately two-thirds of developed recreation sites in national forests and grasslands can be used for free. Many recreation opportunities such as camping, sightseeing, and hiking can be enjoyed throughout the year at no cost.

The Wayne National Forest is made up of 241,000 acres in 12 southeastern Ohio counties. Wayne National Forest is managed to restore Ohio’s natural communities and maintain a healthy, working forest. For more information, visit Wayne National Forest’s web site at http://www.fs.usda.gov/wayne .

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, see www.fs.fed.us

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