|The Grand Canyon, one of 58 designated National Parks.|
You may not be aware of this, but governmental agencies frequently offer some really terrific services and discounts to us as citizens. One such division that you should visit as soon as possible is the National Forest Service (NFS).
Debbie Maneely, Public Affairs Specialist from our local NFS office on South Cortez Street, thinks that there is a lot her office has to offer, and is concerned that the public just doesn't know about it. "We do a lot more than just fire," she said.
Maneely pointed out a few of the items which are quite useful, from pamplets to educational toys for the kids to National Park passes.
Some of the pamplets such as 'Living With Fire," describe how fire has shaped the health of the Southwestern ecosystem. Other pamplets talk about what you can do as a homeowner to protect your home from a wildfire. And there are many more - it's worth checking them out. And all of these are free.
Parents and teachers will be interested in the goodies found at the NFS office - everything from coloring books, to The True Story of Smokey Bear and frisbee-type rings. There is a comic book called, "The Hidden Treasure, Forests and Woody Biomass" that talks about the value of the forests and woody biomass. This would be a great (and free) resource for teachers of elementary students.
Visiting National Parks
Did you know that you can get an annual pass to the National Parks for a reduced rate or even for free? If you were to drive up to the Grand Canyon today, it would cost $25 per vehicle to get in. This pass is good for 7 days, by the way, so you may want to go several days in a row.
But, if you buy an Annual Pass, it will cost only $80, and will allow you and up to three other adults in your vehicle admission to any National Park or Federal Recreational Lands area for an entire year. Children under 16 always get in for free.
Suppose you are over 62 or older. Did you know that you can get a Senior Pass for only $10? This pass entitles the holder to free admission at any National Park or Federal Recreation Lands for life. Not only that, but it provides for a 50 percent discount on certain fees for facilities and services.
Do you have a permanent disability? With proper documentation, you can get an Access Pass to National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands. This pass is valid for the lifetime of the holder. It also offers a 50 percent discount on certain services and fees.
Ok, so you don't want to purchase the Annual Pass if you don't have to, but you're not over 62 or disabled. You can still get in for free if you are willing to put in some sweat equity. There is a Volunteer Pass, given to those who accumulate 500 hours of volunteer service. The Volunteer Pass is good for one year, once it's been issued, although it can be extended for each increment of 500 hours of volunteer work.
And, there's one more way to get a free pass. Take some great photos somewhere in a Federal Recreation Land and submit it to the Share the Experience Photo Contest. If you are a winner, you will receive a free Annual Pass.
Oh yeah, you also might win a 2008 Ford Escape Hybrid, and some other cool prizes if your photo is chosen. Imagine enjoying the priceless wonders of our protected lands in your new car!