MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WTOK)-
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey announced on Wednesday that, in conjunction with the Alabama Legislature and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, entry into Alabama’s State Parks is now free for all Veterans.
Alabama State Parks implemented the new program on November 1, 2017. The program 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.
“I am so proud that as a state we can stand up together and show our support of veterans,” Governor Ivey said. “This new policy is just another mark in the long history of Alabama supporting our military men and women. More than 1 in 10 Alabamians are veterans and there is still so much that we can do to give them the respect they deserve. I hope this small token will show each distinguished member of our military family how appreciative we are of their service to our country.”
Alabama State Parks, a division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, has been working in partnership and cooperation with Rep. Dickie Drake, Sen. Bill Holtzclaw and leaders of both the Alabama House and Senate, all of whom have been instrumental in gathering legislative support for this initiative.
Rep. Dickie Drake plans to file a bill in the 2018 Regular Session that will officially establish the Parks for Patriots free admission policy into law.
"We appreciate the Alabama State Parks' willingness to implement a 'Parks for Patriots' pilot project as House Speaker Mac McCutcheon and I have worked to build legislative support for the initiative. I will be sponsoring legislation in the coming session that will make the 'Parks for Patriots' program a state law so that active duty military personnel, veterans, National Guard members, and reservists for generations to come may be properly thanked for their service while enjoying Alabama's beautiful state parks."
These efforts are in honor of our military and veterans, and their service to our state and our country.
"This is a great way to show support for the sacrifices our Veterans and their families have and continue to make as they serve our nation," Senator Bill Holtzclaw said.
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.
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.
“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.”
The Alabama State Parks “Parks for Patriots” policy will remain in effect until its passage into state law makes it permanent.