Alabama State Parks providing free admission to veterans year-round

Cheaha
Cheaha
View from Bald Rock at Cheaha State Park – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

Alabama loves its State Park system. Now, veterans and their families can enjoy them for free.

Earlier this month, to show appreciation for their service, Alabama State Parks launched  a new program that provides veterans with free admission to any state park, park facility or day use area that charges an entrance fee – including boat ramps and the Gulf State Park pier.

The Alabama State Parks: Parks for Patriots program went into effect on November 1, 2017.

View off the Cheaha State Park Scenic Drive – photo by Pat Byington, Bham Now

“Our parks and public lands are places for reflection and serenity, and they stand as a tribute to those who have served our great nation,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. “For years we have offered free state park admission to veterans on Veterans Day. Expanding that access year-round is the least we can do for those who have made our freedom possible.”

Alabama has a long tradition of honoring veterans. Evolving from Armistice Day, which celebrated the end of World War I, the first national Veterans Day celebration occurred in Alabama in 1947. Veterans Day takes place each year on November 11.

National Veterans Day Parade 2016

Additionally, several Alabama state parks were built with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which employed many World War I veterans during the Great Depression. Structures built by the CCC in the 1930s are still cornerstones of the Alabama State Parks system.

Parks for Patriots also includes a voluntary component that allows park visitors to provide free admission for veterans through sponsorship contributions. Contributions to the program will be accepted for any dollar amount and will be used only to fund free entry for veterans from any branch of the U.S. military.

There are three ways that you can make a sponsorship contribution to the Parks for Patriots program: online by visiting alapark.com; cash only sponsorships can be made at any manned park gate; and cash or credit card sponsorships can be made at most point-of-sale cash registers in park offices, restaurants, camp stores and golf shops. Your sponsorship contribution will be utilized at the park in which it was made. For those making contributions online, the sponsorship can be assigned to the park of your choice.

Anniston
Doug Ghee Accessible Trail at Cheaha State Park – Pat Byington, Bham Now

The Parks for Patriots program applies to entry fees only. Park concessions and other fee-based outdoor adventures within the parks are not covered by the new program.

“I am so thankful for all of our veterans and I am glad we can offer them free admission to our State Parks,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “As Veterans Day approaches, we urge all Alabamians to consider sponsoring our veterans by contributing to this new program. It’s just one of the ways we can all show our gratitude for their selfless service to the country.”

To learn more about the Parks for Patriots program, visit http://www.alapark.com/Parks-for-Patriots-Veterans-Program.

Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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