Tester proposes ‘Freedom Pass’ allowing veterans free access to national parks

Senator’s bill establishes lifetime pass for veterans, reduces fees for active-duty troops

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today introduced a bill that would allow free, lifetime access to America’s national parks and National Park Service sites like National Historic sites.

Tester’s bill, the National Parks Freedom Pass Act, would create a new “Freedom Pass” available to all honorably discharged military veterans who are U.S. citizens. The lifetime Freedom Pass would be similar to the existing Senior Pass (formerly known as the Golden Age Passport), but without the 62-year age limit.

The only cost for a Freedom Pass would be a one-time $10 processing fee.

Tester’s bill, endorsed by the National Guard Association of the United States, also allows active-duty and reserve members of the U.S. Armed Forces to purchase a one-year Annual Pass for all national parks and federal recreation areas at half of the normal price.  Under Tester’s bill, active-duty and reserve members would pay $40 for an Annual Pass instead of the current fee of $80.

“National parks are America’s treasures, and the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect them deserve a lifetime of access to them,” said Tester, Montana’s only member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “Waiving park entrance fees is a powerful way to say ‘thank you,’ allowing America’s veterans and troops better access to some of the world’s greatest places like Yellowstone and Glacier.”

“I appreciate Jon’s leadership in looking after veterans like me,” said Humberto Piedra-Ruiz, an Iraq combat veteran who just graduated from Montana State University with a degree in civil engineering. “The Freedom Pass is a bold proposal to honor veterans by improving access to recreation.  It’s a small token of appreciation that will go a long way for veterans and the families who shared in their sacrifice.”

Tester is a member of the subcommittee that oversees funding of the National Parks system.

Tester’s National Parks Freedom Pass Act is available HERE.

More information about existing passes to national parks and other federal recreation sites is available online HERE.