WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, announced that their bipartisan legislation, the Every Kid Outdoors Act, was signed into law as part of the broader John D. Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. The Every Kid Outdoors Act will provide America's fourth graders and their families free entrance to America's public lands, waters, and historic sites, including national parks – more than 2,000 sites in all.
Since 2015, the Department of the Interior has offered fourth graders and their families free entrance to all federally managed public lands. The Every Kid Outdoors Act codifies this effort into law, which will encourage further collaboration with outside organizations and help leverage additional support, while providing for new and more widespread educational opportunities.
“Our national parks and public lands are outdoor classrooms with endless opportunities to learn and make memories,” said Senator Heinrich. “Connecting kids to the outdoors can inspire a lifelong connection to conservation, while reaping all of the health benefits that go along with an active lifestyle. The Every Kid Outdoors Act will give fourth graders and their families free access to explore the rich natural and cultural history on display in our parks, forests, and monuments.”
“In this age of smartphones and tablets, our national parks are even more, not less, important – it’s a place where children can escape their digital diets and feast on a world of natural splendor. I know a little bit about this – I grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, which is next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the park looms large in many of my childhood memories. It is my hope that children – and their families – will take some time to explore our country’s national parks and create memories of their own,” said Senator Alexander.
Senator Heinrich, co-chair of the bipartisan Outdoor Recreation Caucus, is a longtime supporter of enhancing educational outdoor recreation opportunities for communities in New Mexico. Early in his career, Senator Heinrich served in AmeriCorps for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was the Executive Director of the Cottonwood Gulch Foundation, where he led youth educational wilderness expeditions and outdoor programs in the American Southwest.
Joining Senators Heinrich and Alexander as cosponsors of the bill in the last congress were U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Ron Wyden, (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).