National parks to become free for wounded veterans

Maine Sen. Susan Collins said the change “will ensure that disabled veterans can continue to access our country’s national treasures for outdoor recreation, which can help heal both the visible and invisible wounds of war.”

 In this May 2, 2013 file photo, the sun's rays strike the rocky coast of Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island in Maine.
In this May 2, 2013 file photo, the sun's rays strike the rocky coast of Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. –(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

BAR HARBOR, Maine (AP) — A proposal from lawmakers in New England and California to give free access to national parks to wounded veterans is poised to become law.

The Wounded Veterans Recreation Act has passed the U.S. House of Representatives after previously passing the U.S. Senate. Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Democratic California Rep. Raul Ruiz proposed the law.

The bill is designed to change the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act to make veterans with a service-connected disability eligible for a free lifetime pass to U.S. national parks, the lawmakers said. Collins said the change “will ensure that disabled veterans can continue to access our country’s national treasures for outdoor recreation, which can help heal both the visible and invisible wounds of war.”

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The U.S. Department of the Interior also recently accepted a proposal from Maine lawmakers Rep. Jared Golden, a Democrat, and Sen. Angus King, an independent, to make admission to national parks free for Gold Star families.

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