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Veterans and Gold Star families will now have free lifetime entry to national parks

(Rick Bowmer/AP)

Beginning on Veterans Day this Wednesday, U.S. veterans and Gold Star families will gain lifetime access to America’s national parks, wildlife refuges and other public federal lands, according to a news release by the National Park Service.

The program waives standard entry fees to about 2,000 public locations across the United States, many of which have historical connections to the U.S. military.

“With the utmost respect and gratitude, we are granting Veterans and Gold Star Families free access to the iconic and treasured lands they fought to protect starting this Veterans Day and every single day thereafter,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said in the announcement. Bernhardt originally announced the program on Oct. 28.

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The National Park Service also waives entry fees to all national parks in commemoration of the holiday annually, meaning anyone can visit free on Nov. 11.

Veterans, including those who served in the National Guard and Reserve, can claim a free America the Beautiful Pass by presenting a valid Department of Defense Identification Card, Veteran Health Identification Card, Veteran ID card or a Veteran-designated state ID.

Also available for nonveterans, the pass typically costs $80 per year. The National Park Service already offers free annual America the Beautiful passes to active-duty military and their dependent family members.

The pass “covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” according to the National Park Service’s website. That includes any fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle that is permitted entry, or up to four adults at park sites that charge per person.

Gold Star families are defined as those who have lost an immediate family member to military service, including wars, terrorist attacks and international military operations.

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