U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) led a bipartisan contingent of her colleagues in requesting that the National Park Service extend the current Every Kid Outdoors pass into the 2020-2021 school year.
“It is so important that we encourage our students to engage with public lands and learn through them, and unfortunately many of those areas had to temporarily close as a result of COVID-19,” Rep. Stefanik said. “I am proud to be leading the effort in the House to request that the Every Kid Outdoors pass that was issued this year be extended for another year, in order to ensure that our students and families do not miss out on this educational opportunity.”
Since 2015, the U.S. Department of the Interior has offered fourth graders and their families free entrance to all federally managed public lands through the Every Kid Outdoors Program, which Congress authorized through the bipartisan Every Kid Outdoors Act in 2019, according to an Oct. 19 letter Rep. Stefanik and her colleagues sent to Margaret Everson, who currently oversees director duties of the National Park Service.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented hurdles, the members wrote, when state and local governments issued stay-at-home orders, encouraged only essential travel, and closed parks, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported physical distancing standards and limiting outdoor recreation to parks and areas located closer to home.
“Students and families adhering to the federal, state and local guidance may not have been able to fully utilize their 2019-2020 Every Kid Outdoors pass, which expired on August 31st, 2020,” wrote the lawmakers, who included U.S. Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Peter Welch (D-VT).
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House, and with the administration to see that this extension is awarded,” added Rep. Stefanik. “These areas are of rich natural and cultural history and we must continue to ensure that Americans can enjoy them.”
The Outdoors Alliance for Kids and the YMCA of the USA endorsed the lawmakers’ letter, which requested “a swift and thorough consideration of a full year extension of the pass.”