Dept. of Interior Adopts Golden, King Proposal to Provide Free National Park Access for Gold Star Families

October 29, 2020
Press Release
Department of the Interior announces it is implementing a plan first proposed by Golden and King to make entrance to national parks and public lands free for families of fallen servicemembers

WASHINGTON — Following the introduction of legislation earlier this year by Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) and Senator Angus King (I-ME) to make admission to national parks free for Gold Star Families – an idea proposed to Congressman Golden by a constituent – the U.S. Department of the Interior announced earlier today it would implement the lawmakers’ proposal nationwide. Starting November 11, 2020, entrance fees for Gold Star Families will be waived at all national parks and other federal public lands, including at Acadia National Park. Veterans will also have their fees waived. 

Golden first introduced the bipartisan Gold Star Families Parks Pass Act with Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) earlier this year and passed it through the House as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in July. Senator Angus King (I-ME), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) introduced a companion bill in the Senate. 

“Gold Star families deserve our deepest respect and unwavering support. Making our national parks and public lands open to these Americans free of charge is a small but meaningful way to express our gratitude for their sacrifices,” said Congressman Golden. “I’m pleased that the Department of the Interior will implement my proposal with Senator King nationwide and will build upon it to include all veterans. I’ll continue to work across the aisle to pass our legislation this fall to permanently enshrine these privileges for Gold Star Families into law.”

“America’s Gold Star Families have made unimaginable sacrifices for the safety of our country, and we should do everything possible to help them heal,” said Senator King, Ranking Member of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. “America’s public lands are among the most beautiful natural wonders in the world, and their importance to Americans has only grown during the ongoing pandemic. The families of those who’ve lost a loved one in defense of our nation should be able to have access to these treasures free of charge. I’m grateful that today’s order will open these lands, and hopeful that my legislation with Congressman Golden will pass through Congress soon so this initiative will be enacted into law. This is not complicated – it’s simply the right thing to do.”

Since introducing the bill in March, Golden has fought to have the legislation included in this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and for the language to be included in the NDAA after both the House and Senate versions of the legislation are reconciled later this fall.

You can read the Department of the Interior announcement here.