The U.S. Forest Service is offering a fee-free day Saturday, June 8, in celebration of National Get Outdoors Day, an annual event to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun. The Forest Service offers fee-free four times a year. The first such fee-free period in 2013 was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The other days are Sept. 28 forÂ National Public Lands Day and Nov. 9-11 for Veterans Day weekend.
â€œThe countryâ€™s forests and grasslands beckon people from coast to coast to come hike, bike, fish and camp this weekend,â€ saidÂ U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. â€œA tank of gas can give you memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime. Itâ€™s worth the trip.â€
Encouraging Americans to reconnect with nature, especially on public lands, is consistent with President Obamaâ€™s Americaâ€™s Great Outdoors initiative that seeks to empower Americans to share in the responsibility to conserve, restore and provide better access to our lands and waters, and leave a healthy and vibrant outdoor legacy for generations to come. National Get Outdoors Day also supports Letâ€™s Move Outside!, First Lady Michelle Obamaâ€™s initiative to raise a healthier generation by engaging kids and families in active, outdoor recreation across public lands and waters.
â€œThese special days are our way to encourage you to be a kid again, no matter your age or your level of outdoor experience,â€ said Joe Meade, director of the agencyâ€™sÂ Recreation, Heritage and Volunteer Resources. â€œPublic lands can help you de-stress from the office or build lifelong memories with your family.â€
Â The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched June 14, 2008, through a partnership between the Forest Service and the American Recreation Coalition. The partnership built on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other efforts to connect Americans â€” especially children â€” with nature and active lifestyles. Go Day, as it sometimes called, now includes federal, state and local agencies, key organizations and recreation businesses to create activities across the country.
Forest Service lands, which include 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, offer something for everyone, from the casual hiker to the thrill-seeking recreationist. There also are opportunities and programs for children, fromÂ Discover the ForestÂ that helps kids learn what to do outside to becoming aÂ Junior Forest RangerÂ that comes with special access to the online â€œJFR Clubhouse.â€
The programs, such as GO Day, are designed to reach all Americans, from those in rural, forest-dependent communities to those in diverse, under-served communities. More than 165 million people visited forests and grasslands and more than 6 million people participated in environmental education, recreation and related literacy programs in recent years.