Since 2015, the Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) program has provided passes to fourth graders so they and their families can access their federal public lands and waters for free for a year. The EKO program ensures that every fourth grader, regardless of their ability to pay entry fees, can create crucial connections to public lands, inspiring future generations of stewards for America's spectacular national parks and other public lands and waters.
The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many fourth graders and their families from using the EKO pass this year, and the U.S. Department of the Interior has made no announcement regarding extending it, and the expiration date is August 31st. Tell Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to extend the current EKO pass into 2021, ensuring that millions of children and their families will be able to access their national parks, forests and waters when public health officials deem it safe to do so.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local governments have issued stay-at-home mandates, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidance urging Americans to stay physically distanced, limit travel and encourage outdoor physical activity in parks and open spaces close to home. These efforts have affected the ability of families to access public lands across the country. Despite this, national parks and waters have been consistently overcrowded throughout the pandemic, with many viewpoints, facilities and trails packed with people, making the recommended six feet distance from others impossible to maintain. The influx of visitors has also affected vulnerable gateway communities, causing devastating outbreaks that have overwhelmed their hospital systems. As a result, families following public health officials’ guidance have not been able to use their Every Kid Outdoors park pass -- these children and families should not be penalized for keeping themselves and others safe!
Help fourth graders and their families fully utilize the Every Kid Outdoors program, and ask Secretary Bernhardt to extend the current Every Kid Outdoors park pass for another year. For a bigger impact, write a personal message on the petition form.
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Photo credit: National Park Trust